They say hard work pays off and sometimes it pays off in spades. Last week I got the incredible news that the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team has chosen me and the Bring Smiles to Seniors program as one of their community hero’s for the 2018 – 2019 season.
The Lightning Community Hero program was created in 2011 by Jeff Vinik as the signature philanthropic program of the Lightning Foundation. Since October of 2011, at every home regular season and post-season game, they recognize one grassroots Hero whose noble efforts make a positive impact of others by awarding them with a Lightning Community Hero award.
Honorees’ rich history of volunteerism and good works are celebrated via an in-game video that illustrates how the Hero is using his or her life to help others less fortunate, and inspires their fans to also use their lives to help make a difference in the greater Tampa Bay community. The Hero is also presented with a $50,000 grant on their behalf to benefit the charities of his or her choice.
At the October 30th home game against the New Jersey Devils I will be recognized and I am so proud that I will be surrounded by my amazing volunteers Linda Soto, Renee Eisman, Becky Johnson, Diane Hill and Liane Young who are all just as much a part of this award as I am. That night we will be celebrating every card artist, decorator, school student, principal, civic group, volunteer and donor that have helped us deliver over 27,000 cards just this year alone.
From our very first senior community (my grandmother’s) to the numerous communities we now serve in all 50 states, along with the over 300 deliveries we have made this year, together we have turned this little dream into a big reality. Not only will our seniors benefit from all our efforts, the grant that I will receive will also benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma society in honor of my dad and his recent diagnosis. It will also benefit ALS in honor of a member of Bonnie’s family, the person who nominated me for the award. A portion of the grant will also go to A.F.I.R.E of Pasco County, a day program for developmentally challenged adults that has been so good to us in giving us ideas for fundraising and letting us be a part of their events such as the “Ducktona 500” rubber duck races every year.
I have always believed that when you do good things, good things come back to you. Seeing seniors smile makes all the hard work worth it. With this award I celebrate each and every one of you for being part of the journey and look forward to sharing the video of the award ceremony with you after October 30th. If you happen to be at the October 30th game, look out for us, we promise to wave back.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.
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