TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) – Nine-year-old Addison Kapustiak’s nonprofit toy collection effort is got a major boost over the weekend. The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Kapustiak as its Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow, which comes with a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program.
Kapustiak lives with a rare disease called TRAPS syndrome and goes to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital every other week to receive infusion treatments. On one visit she noticed the prize closet, where kids go to pick out a toy when their treatment is finished, was down to almost nothing.
"Really just Happy Meal toys and stuff. Like, baby toys and stuff that I don't like,” said Addison, describing what she found.
But instead of being disappointed about her choices, Addison was sad for all the other children at the hospital, so she started a small toy drive to collect toys for the prize closet.
What started out as just Addison donating her birthday presents, grew into the nonprofit Sending Smiles, and Kapustiak delivering four carloads of donated toys just before Christmas. Her effort caught the eye of Tampa’s NHL franchise.
Saturday, she was honored as the team’s 268th Lightning Community Hero, and was given $25,000 for Sending Smiles and another $25,000 for her college education.