Found February 18, 2013 on Fox Sports Florida:
TAMPA, Fla. Early in each Tampa Bay Lightning home game, Elizabeth Frazier takes a moment to reflect. Play stops during the second timeout of the first period, and the crowd at Tampa Bay Times Forum meets a hero whose impact goes well beyond the ice. This is the second year of the Lightning Community Hero Program, a philanthropic effort by Tampa Bays NHL franchise that, beginning in the 2011-12 campaign, is scheduled to distribute 10 million to grass-roots community heroes in the region over five years. Each of the Lightnings 41 home games includes a presentation of a 50,000 check awarded to a non-profit charity of the recipients choice. Each story touches others, beyond sticks and pucks, beyond the game. Each tells of people influencing a greater good. It just puts things in perspective, said Frazier, the Lightnings vice president of philanthropy and community initiatives. You feel the same way when you get to meet these heroes. Its like, Wow, we are able to change lives with what were doing. And thats why we do it. The heroes have varied interests, all with backgrounds that motivate and inspire. People such as Bruce Fyfe, who started a 3.2 million low-income housing program in Clearwater, Fla., targeted for the more than 15,000 projected homeless among Florida veterans in future years. People such as Kathy Champion, who became active in many charitable efforts that benefit wounded soldiers after she was blinded and lost feeling in the left side of her body because of injuries sustained while serving in Iraq. People such as David Wright, a former Princeton linebacker, who started a foundation that operates sports camps for underserved fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. We stop the game, and we tell a story, Frazier said. The goal is that if we could have 19,000 people hear a story about someone whos using their life to make the community a better place, then we can give that person funding to give to an organization. But even more so, we can get those 19,000 people thinking about community service. I think thats the true inspiration, to lead by example and to inspire, not just to give money. The program began when Lightning chairman and governor Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, launched the 10 million initiative. With help from Tod Leiweke, the Lightnings CEO and alternate governor, the franchise envisioned a platform where non-profit organizations were helped and touching stories were told. There are no guidelines for potential heroes to be considered. The only rule is that he or she be inspirational. Frazier recalls some of the best nomination letters including spelling and grammatical errors, but passion in the message was clear. We like stories, Frazier said. It gets people involved. Were giving money, but were also telling stories that we think can motivate people to make the community a better place. The nomination process includes these steps: After a subset of finalists are determined, an eight-person committee meets multiple times this year it was after three deadlines to choose the heroes. Opinions tend to vary, based on life experiences of the selectors, before members of the class are chosen. Names are given to the Viniks for final approval. Its a three-pronged benefit: Highlight good works in the region, use the Lightnings platform to shine a light on issues that go beyond standings and scoreboards, and create awareness so others will benefit in years to come. When complete, the Lightning Community Hero Program will have honored 205 people and, by Frazier estimate, 600 to 700 organizations. Each story touches others. Each is worth remembering. What I hope the legacy will be (is) that we can use the profile of the Lightning to lead by example and for non-profits to work together and collaborate, Frazier said. I think the legacy would be that we have all these great representatives and great causes, weve funded 10 million of amazing community work and have somehow inspired people to think bigger than just their own organization or their own cause and to work together. For more information about the program, please visit: http:lightning.nhl.comclubpage.htm?id=50496 You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Michael Stuart: A Quick Look at the Lightning's Goaltending: Part One

During last season’s debacle in Tampa Bay, goaltending was a big topic of discussion for fans of the Lightning. Dwayne Roloson was bad, Mathieu Garon was injured, and Dustin Tokarski was less than inspiring. Combined, they helped to form the worst goaltending trio in the league. Fast forward just a few months and the Bolts are in a completely different situation. Anders...

Michael Stuart: Lightning Knock Off Leafs for Second Straight Win

The Tampa Bay Lightning took advantage of a tired Toronto Maple Leafs team and claimed a 4-2 victory at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Contributions from all areas of the roster propelled the Lightning in a game that can only be described as an improvement compared to recent contests. Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier scored, Benoit Pouliot compiled three assists, and Anders Lindback...

Lightning all over the Leafs in 4-2 win

The Toronto Maple Leafs limited the Lightning shots for most of the game. But the Bolts scored four goals in route to a 4-2 win. Vinny Levalier put the Lightning out in front 1-0 in the first period after taking the pass from Benoit Pouliot. Almost 10 minutes later, Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski tied it after putting the rebound past Anders Lindback. Steven Stamkos would put the...
Lightning News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.