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Lightning, Vinik to continue popular ‘community heroes’ program

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The Lightning Foundation has announced plans for its new nomination periods for the “Lightning Community Heroes” program for the upcoming season, an initiative designed to distribute a $10 million pledge through owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny.

The first nomination deadline is on Sept. 2, followed by Nov. 13 and Jan. 15.

Throughout each of its 41 home games, the club will honor a community hero and award $50,000 to a nonprofit organization. A total of more than $2 million will be given out to community causes.

Over the last four years, the Lightning foundation has celebrated 179 heroes, awarding $9.1 million. During the Lightning’s playoff run this season, it added a community hero for each home game.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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