Tampa Bay Honors Eric Bledsoe as Lightning Community Hero

TAMPA BAY (Florida Sports Wire) – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Eric Bledsoe as the Lightning Community Hero this evening during the first period of tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild. Bledsoe, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil, will donate the money to The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. 


Currently, Bledsoe serves as the Director of the Gateway Contact Center, which fields calls from throughout the community struggling mentally. He initially started with the Crisis Center two years ago as a Veteran Care Coordinator, assisting veteran peers on the Florida Veterans Support Line. Bledsoe has repeatedly put others over himself in his roles, even camping out at the Gateway Contact Center through Hurricane Ian to ensure that the team felt supported as they were inundated with calls from anxious community members. He continues to work diligently to ensure his team has the support and resources they need in order to support those who are struggling throughout our community.  


The grant tonight will be used to support the mission of The Crisis Center. Specifically, this funding will allow The Crisis Center to provide staff training in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and enhanced Psychological First Aid (PFA), which is required to take 988 calls in their Gateway Contact Center. The funding will enable The Crisis Center to fund 10 employees to become ASIST Trainers, which in turn will result in training to 100 Crisis Center employees over two years.  


Bledsoe became the 526th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through tonight’s game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $28.67 million to more than 700 unique nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2021, the Viniks announced that the community hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.         

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