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Vinik honored with county commendation

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

The 2011-12 regular season hasn’t started yet, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are already tallying points. This time, the merits are within the community.

And at least for now, the leading scorer on the team is Owner and Governor Jeff Vinik.

On Wednesday, Vinik recorded yet another assist in the community as he received a commendation from the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for his partnership and dedication to the citizens of Hillsborough County.

“Today was truly a great day for the Tampa Bay Lightning organization,” Vinik said. “We take the impact we’ve had on the community very seriously and it is an honor to be recognized.”

County Commissioner Kevin Beckner kicked off the ceremony by addressing fellow members of the Board of County Commissioners, as well as those citizens in attendance, with a litany of both on-ice and off-ice accomplishments attained by the organization since Vinik’s tenure began in the spring of 2010.

Vinik, along with Lightning Chief Executive Officer Tod Leiweke, Chief Operating Officer Steve Griggs, Chief Financial Officer Martha Fuller and General Manager Steve Yzerman, took to the front of the room to receive the decree from Beckner which was accompanied by a loud roar of applause.

“It was my pleasure to have Mr. Vinik and his staff in attendance this morning,” Beckner said. “We not only congratulate them on a terrific 2010-11 season, but also for their accomplishments off the ice. They’ve left a significant impression on this community.”

As Vinik and his core of executives remained standing at the front of the room, Commissioner Beckner told the story of a teenage boy, Jack Allen, who at five years old was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Allen will be recognized this season at one of the team’s 41 home games as a Lightning Community Hero. This program recognizes individuals throughout the season who will receive $50,000 to donate to a worthy cause.

“I am going through a tough time,” Allen said through a video message that was played for all in attendance at the ceremony. “But the Lightning have inspired to me to stay positive in keep moving forward.”

Following the video message, Commissioner Beckner presented a framed plaque with a hockey puck inside that was signed by all seven board members of the county commission. Then, Beckner himself, along with others, including Commissioner Mark Sharpe, congratulated Vinik while also sharing stories and memories of their own experiences at past Lightning games.

Vinik concluded the commendation with his own closing remarks in which he reiterated the organization’s long-term goals to compete at the highest level on the ice and to perform world class service off of it.

“I’d like to again thank the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for this great award,” Vinik added. “It’s a pleasure to make a difference in this great community.”

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