The Tampa Bay Lightning, in conjunction with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), announced in September 2015 that they are investing more than $6 million over the next five years to grow the game of hockey and teach life skills lessons to Tampa Bay's young people.
Lightning Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik made the announcement with team President and CEO Steve Griggs and Executive Director of Community Hockey Development Jay Feaster. The program, titled Build the Thunder, marks the franchise's third major community initiative under Vinik since he purchased the Lightning in 2010.
"I am so proud to be able to share my love of hockey with the youth of the Tampa Bay region as we introduce an extensive program that will grow new hockey fans while also giving us the opportunity to feature Lightning players and alumni as role models and 'teachers' for our children," said Vinik upon making the announcement.
"As they grow their knowledge of hockey, 100,000 young people in our community will also learn critical life and educational skills."
Since 2015, the Community & Hockey Development Team has visited over 1,150 schools and donated street hockey equipment, handed out over 213,000 Lightning branded Street Hockey sticks, and introduced over 5,000 kids to the game of ice hockey in the Tampa Bay Area.