December 5, 2013 — The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) proudly presented their 2013 Partner of the Year Award to the Tampa Bay Lightning and chief executive officer Tod Leiweke on Wednesday, November 20, 2013.

“FARA recognizes that collaboration and partnership are absolutely essential for success,” cited Jennifer Farmer, FARA Executive Director. “The Tampa Bay Lightning has gone above and beyond to help further our mission to find a cure for Friedreich’s Ataxia. Their personal and professional commitments have brought us closer to the finish line and inspired hope in many.”

Leiweke, who also serves as Honorary Chair of the Energy Ball in Tampa, and the Lightning have demonstrated true commitment to the FARA mission; utilizing their resources to increase Friedreich’s Ataxia awareness through donations, participation and community outreach.

Leiweke and the Lightning’s contributions to FARA have been enormous. Early this year, they were generous enough to host a FARA Night during one of their games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum with “” and the FARA logo on the scoreboard for nearly 20,000 attendees to see.

Further, Leiweke and the Lightning contributed numerous exclusive auction items to the Energy Ball Silent and Live auctions, such as Travel with the Team to an Away Game, which raised critical funds to support FA research. Additionally, they donated their suite at the Eagles concert to facilitate fundraising for FARA’s Energy Ball, which resulted in FARA’s Fund-a-Cure pledge drive reaching a record high of $260,000.

The Lightning Foundation and team owner, Jeff Vinik, have also been incredibly generous Energy Ball sponsors.

“The challenges we face in accomplishing our mission requires partnerships with individuals and organizations from government, industry and other advocacy groups. We believe in recognizing and celebrating these partnerships and the people who make them successful.” says Kyle Bryant, FARA ambassador who also is diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia. “It means so much to know that we have people right by our side fighting for us.”

FARA Partner of the Year Selection Criteria

  • Leadership and/or employees/constituents within the partner organization directly support FARA’s mission and demonstrate a commitment to curing FA faster than thought possible(e.g., fundraising, in-kind contributions, professional services, etc.)
  • Organizational culture that values community, helping others and volunteerism
  • Commitment to increasing awareness of Friedreich’s ataxia or FARA

About FARA
The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) is a national, public, 501©(3), non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to curing Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) through research. FARA grants and activities provide support for basic and translational FA research, pharmaceutical/ biotech drug development, clinical trials, and scientific conferences. FARA also serves as a catalyst, between the public and scientific community, to create worldwide exchanges of information that drive medical advances.

Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, LLC
The 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the leasehold rights to the Tampa Bay Times Forum were purchased by an entity controlled by Jeffrey Vinik in March, 2010. Shortly thereafter, Vinik also purchased the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League. Since acquiring these assets, Vinik has spearheaded a complete brand and business transformation of the teams and the arena under the banner of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, LLC. The Lightning advanced to the Eastern Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2011 and the Times Forum received a $42 million renovation later that summer. The following summer the organization installed a new center-hung scoreboard, larger than any other arena in the United States and Canada. Under the new ownership and management group, the fans have responded, more than doubling the team’s season ticket base. Vinik and the rest of his management team continue to move the organization forward with eyes on success on the ice as well as a world class organization off of it.