TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Vance Tomasi as the 28th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the New Jersey Devils. Tomasi, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate half of the funds to the Hillsborough County Public School's annual Summer Reading Camp, while the other half will go to a scholarship for his own education.
Vance, a sixth grader at Farnell Middle School, believes that reading is the foundation of success. At a young age he is already a Gold Level Award recipient for the President's Volunteer Service award and has collected and donated over 40,000 books to 74 locations in the last 16 months. Tomasi has partnered with the Hillsborough County Public School system on many projects and was surprised to learn just how many kids are retained each year due to reading challenges. These kids who are struggling with reading are offered the opportunity to attend a summer reading camp, which both Vance and his brother were able to attend last year.
Tomasi's initiative will provide new, high interest books in a reading pack for the kids to enjoy after they finish with the summer reading camp. He recognized that while him and his brother have access to many books at home, this is not always the norm. Many participants are from low-income households and don't have access to books of their own. The county will purchase books and provide mentors for these children, which will allow them to practice their reading skills and gain positive learning experiences even after the camp is over.
Vance Tomasi becomes the 299th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $15.05 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.