In 2011, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, along with his wife, Penny, launched the Lightning Community Hero program, to distribute $10 million dollars to deserving Heroes and non-profits throughout the Tampa Bay community over a five year period. At each of the Lightning’s 41 regular season and playoff home games for the past four seasons, the Lightning Community Hero program has celebrated a local Hero and donated $50,000 to a non-profit charity of his or her choice.  In the first five years of the program, the lightning has shared the stories of 229 deserving Heroes at all of their home games. The Lightning Community Hero program, supported by the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation, has distributed funding to over 400 local charities, totaling $11,600,000 since the program’s inception.

In April of 2016, Mr. and Mrs. Vinik announced another five year, $10 million pledge through the Vinik Family Foundation to assure the continuation of the Lightning Community Hero program for the next five seasons.  Celebrating a Community Hero has become a beloved signature moment at their home games.

In addition to celebrating Community Heroes who have primarily been selected for their past service to the community, they are adding a new category of awardees: Community Heroes of Tomorrow, which will celebrate inspiring public-spirited young people from the Tampa Bay community who have a history of past community service and volunteerism, but also have plans and ambitions to drive social change and make a positive future impact in the Tampa Bay community.

On this episode of Bayside, we’re talking all about the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation.

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