Last week I wrote about the “Power of We” and that power was never more evident than last night. During the Tampa Bay Lightning game I had the privilege of accepting the Lightning Foundation Community Hero Award surrounded by my family and friends. At every home game the Vinik family chooses one person that has done extraordinary things to benefit the community. That person receives a $50,000 grant to donate to their chosen charities. While Bring Smiles to Seniors could only keep a small part of it due to our very small operating budget and IRS foundation rules, we were able to put the power of we in action to benefit others as a result of our work.
Last evening not only did I get the opportunity to explain to Mr. Vinik (the owner of the Lightning) what we do, we got to share the message of our program with 20,000 fans in attendance and a broad network of people watching the game across the country. We had the opportunity to share with others the importance of remembering those that paved the way for us and the added importance of making sure that children are a part of the process. In addition, our grant benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of my dad who was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma. The grant also benefited ALS in honor of Bonnie’s aunt (the person who nominated me for the award) who is dealing with the disease. We also benefited A.F.I.R.E of Pasco County, a day school for developmentally challenged adults who have been so good in sharing their ideas with us since our program was founded.
As an added bonus to the day, for the first time my entire team that keeps the Bring Smiles to Seniors program alive was together in one place. Linda, Renee, Diane, Liane and Becky, amazing examples of the “power of we” that I have ever known. Without them, there is no way that this program would have ever been possible.
The we doesn’t stop there however. Every card artist, decorator, donor, supporter and participant in the program were a part of last night’s award. As I told Mr. Vinik, my day job feeds my stomach but the program feeds my soul. We are a community of amazing people that have all come together for a common purpose. While the fervor and excitement of last night will fade, the fact that we will carry on to continue bringing smiles to seniors is the most wonderful thing of all. To everyone who supported us to make this incredible event happen, a piece of my heart and a huge thank you goes out to you. Being a part of the “we” that we have built is definitely one of the highlights of my life. I know my grandmother was there with us, looking down on us and smiling.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.