TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2022) – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Holly Andrade as the Lightning Community Hero this evening during the first period of tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils. Andrade, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil, will donate the money to Learning Independence for Tomorrow (LiFT).
Andrade was nominated for her passion and advocacy for children with neurodiversity. She was approached by LiFT, a school for children with neurodiversity, in 2013 to leave her paid employment behind, with five children at home, and become a teacher at their school as an unpaid volunteer. Andrade took this leap of faith, and has since become Principal, empowering her students, and changing the lives of the neurodiverse in Tampa Bay.
“I did it for my son Daniel, and for all the other children like him. Neurodiverse children have so much to offer the world. The only thing that holds them back, is how the world limits them. But we can change how the world sees them and I want to be a part of that. There’s absolutely nothing like providing an opportunity to help children become what they were destined to be,” said Andrade.
The grant tonight will be used to enhance LiFT’s classrooms with flexible seating options, new furniture, light dimmers for students with visual sensitivities, and additional equipment and fidgets that will serve as therapeutic purposes. These improvements will empower students to focus on their learning, without distractions and discomfort due to their sensory sensitivities.
This grant will furthermore help LiFT make a larger impact in our community, by enhancing the neurodiverse student experience with a safe and inclusive space to learn, thrive, and succeed.
Andrade became the 473rd 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 $24.7 million to more than 600 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.
About Learning Independence for Tomorrow
LiFT is the vision of passionate mothers who wanted an educational program that focused on independent outcomes for their own children with neurodiversity. In 2012, Kim Kuruzovich and Keli Mondello had a vision. Inspired by their daughters, they set out to create an inclusive and accepting environment where children would be free from bullying so they would have the peace to learn and grow. Today LiFT boasts an enrollment of 130(+) students and three educational programs. LiFT Academy serves Kindergarten through 12th grade; LiFT University Transition Program, is a four-year post-secondary transition program for students who have completed high school, but desire continued academics, career readiness, and intensive life skill training. LiFT Adult Day program offers continued learning and employment skills while promoting social enterprise.
As a recognized leader in the landscape of special and inclusive education, LiFT is committed to providing exceptional and equal opportunities in education, employment, and life experiences for ALL!
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