December 26, 2015
Lightning owner presents a check to Bruce Fyfe, one of the team’s Community Heroes. Fyfe is chairman of the Homeless Empowerment Program. which assists homeless veterans. With him is HEP president Barbara Green. JAY CONNER/STAFFWhen Brooke Pasch was born 22 years ago, doctors told her family she wouldn’t live more than two weeks. There wasn’t hope. She suffered from VACTERL association. Her right arm was deformed — and so was every organ in her body. Her problems included heart and kidney disease, amid many others. Brooke was wired all wrong from the start. There’d never be a day without medicines. She carried them in her school backpack. And she led a hero’s life.
“I never met a person happier than Brooke,” said Kim Pasch, Brooke’s mother. “She loved helping people.”
Monday night marks a milestone at Amalie Arena. During the Tampa Bay Lightning’s game with Montreal, there will be a pause during the first period, about 10 minutes in, as there has been at every home game the past five seasons.
The Lightning Foundation and Lightning Community Heroes program will make another $50,000 donation to honor another hidden star, more local treasure: Sister Claire LeBoeuf, 73, who has dedicated her life to founding organizations that aid foster children, including New Life Village, a community for families who want to adopt harder-to-adopt children in foster care. She’ll choose to send the money in that direction.
Sister Claire will join the club Brooke Pasch has belonged to for three years. Sister Claire will be the 197th Hero in this remarkable program, one that brings 19,000 people to their feet as they watch each Hero pull on or hold up a Lightning jersey. Players on both teams will bang their sticks against the boards, a righteous hockey salute. And somewhere in the building will be Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who with his wife, Penny, pledged $10 million over five years to create the Heroes program.
Monday’s donation will make $10 million.
They’re Richard Cadogan, 68, a disabled veteran who became a voice for children who’ve been abused, abandoned or neglected.
They’re Bruce Fyfe, who was reaching out to veterans even before he lost his son, Brendan, to the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder after three tours in Iraq. Fyfe oversees a 32-unit housing project for homeless veterans and their families.
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