Despite the fact that the current NHL Lockout has caused the cancellation of all games through November 1st, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has vowed to continue the Community Heroes project. This is good news for the Tampa Bay area and its many charitable organizations.
Vinik announced earlier this week that no matter how many games the Lightning play this season, the program, which was started during Vinik’s organizational restructuring during the 2011-12 season, would continue for a second consecutive year.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Vinik said. “We still don’t know whether or not we will play games yet, but one thing I do know for certain is that myself and the Lightning organization are both proud and excited to move forward with honoring the fantastic individuals in this community.”
With the help of the Lightning Foundation, the Community Heroes project awards $50,000 to a recipient’s preferred charity of choice at each Lightning home game. During its first year, the Community Heroes project awarded a total of $2,050,000.
As long as collective bargaining discussions continue, a check presentation will take place on each day the Lightning were to have a home game. However, the presentation will now occur at the site of the recipient’s local charity instead of the Times Forum where the presentations normally occur during intermission.
The first hero presentation of the (hopefully) 2012-13 season occurred Thursday at the Homeless Emergency Project in Clearwater. Community Hero Bruce Fyfe was honored for his work with less fortunate individuals, which include any military veterans.
This is not the first, and certainly not the last display of Jeff Vinik’s commitment to Tampa Bay. The Bolts owner recently paid homage to the arts at the Lightning’s first annual Celebration of the Arts last week inside the Firestick Grill at the Forum. Approximately 300 pieces of art were submitted by Bay Area residents. 41 of those have been tapped to be displayed at the Forum throughout the year.
Also, on October 18th, the Lightning organization participated in the United Way Day of Caring. Approximately 135 employees of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, LLC donated 450 hours of volunteer service to the community. They assisted in a variety of projects from restoring children’s playgrounds to lending a helping hand at the area YMCA.
“No matter the situation on the ice, we are always in a position to give back and to help others,” Vinik continued. “We feel as if it is something we are obligated to do, and we feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to touch people’s lives and truly make a difference. It’s my nature, and I never ever give it a second thought.”
This is just a small example of why Jeff Vinik has given Lightning fans hope. He stands as a shining example that even in the darkest of hockey times, there is still good that can be done.