TAMPA BAY – Tampa Bay Lightning owner and chairman Jeff Vinik, along with his wife, Penny, today announced the expansion and extension of the Lightning Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil. The pledge generously commits an additional $10 million over the course of the next five years, adding to the program’s already storied legacy of providing a $50,000 donation to a charity selected by a local honoree at every regular season and playoff game at AMALIE Arena.
“In 2011, we announced a long-term financial commitment to the Tampa Bay area through the Community Heroes program and since that time it has become a part of the DNA of the entire Lightning organization,” the Viniks said. “In addition to our recent successes on the ice, the Community Heroes program continues to be a source of pride for our family and a signature moment at every home game. We’re very excited to be furthering our commitment with an additional $10 million to the selfless heroes of the Tampa Bay community and the organizations they serve.”
“Jabil is excited to continue our support of the Community Hero program to celebrate and thank individuals who have transformed the lives of so many in the Tampa Bay area,” said Jabil’s Vice President of Talent, Diversity and Community LaShawne Meriwether. “The contributions by those recognized in the program are truly inspiring and we are grateful for their work to drive meaningful change around important social issues in our community.”
The Lightning Community Heroes program launched in 2011 as a cornerstone initiative of the organization, honoring volunteerism and grassroots local heroes whose noble efforts had a positive impact on the community. Since that time the Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation have celebrated more than 450 local heroes and donated more than $23 million. The reach has been significant, resulting in 958 donations to 628 unique non-profits throughout Tampa Bay.
In order to maximize the impact of the program after its first successful ten years, the Lightning are expanding the opportunities via which non-profits can apply for funding through the program. In addition to continuing to celebrate grassroots Community Heroes who volunteer at local non-profits, the Lightning will now offer two additional opportunities to apply for a Community Hero award. Non-profits may now apply directly for $50,000 in grant funding to support specific projects and programs while highlighting an internal hero at the organization who will champion the grant for which they are applying. Additionally, at select games each season a player or coach may apply to support their philanthropic passions and causes in Tampa Bay.
Community Heroes are selected by an independent selection committee. Each honoree is celebrated at AMALIE Arena, not only with a $50,000 grant to the charitable organization or organizations of their choice, but also with a tradition that has become part of the Lightning gameday experience. At the second TV timeout of every Bolts home game, fans are told the story of that night’s hero, normally voiced over by Lightning players. These touching videos, highlighting how these selfless individuals are using their lives to make others better, are met with a standing ovation from the nearly 20,000 in attendance.
The Lightning are honored to continue this beloved tradition for another five years and invite members of the community to nominate and apply at the links below:
Nominate a Traditional Community Hero: https://webportalapp.com/sp/tbltraditionalhero
Traditional Community Hero Eligibility Information: https://www.nhl.com/lightning/community/community-heroes/eligibility
Apply for Community Hero Nonprofit Grant: https://webportalapp.com/sp/tblnonprofitgrant
Community Hero Nonprofit Grant Eligibility Information: https://www.nhl.com/lightning/community/community-heroes/hero-nonprofit-grant-eligibility
LIGHTNING COMMUNITY HEROES PROGRAM HISTORY
The Lightning Community Heroes program is the signature philanthropic initiative of the Lightning Foundation and has been lauded for its innovative contributions through the sports community. In 2011, Lightning owner and chairman Jeff Vinik, along with his wife, Penny, launched the Lightning Community Hero program, which is a collaboration of the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation, to celebrate deserving Heroes and distribute funding to non-profits throughout the Tampa Bay community.
At each of the Lightning’s 41 regular season and playoff home games for the past 10 seasons, the Lightning Community Hero program has been honored to celebrate a local Hero and donate $50,000 to a non-profit charity of his or her choice. Celebrating a Community Hero has become a beloved signature moment at Tampa Bay home games and to date, through the 2020-21 season, the Lightning have honored 450 Heroes and distributed more than $23 million to more than 600 unique non-profits.