Allison Donato: A Bright Light in the Community

University of South Florida Mass Communications student, Allison Donato, is not your typical student. Donato is a member of The Tampa Bay Lightning Girls and has been for four seasons.

     The Lightning Girls are a cheer and dance group for the professional hockey team in Tampa Bay. Donato may dance and cheer on game day, but being a Lightning Girl comes with a lot of responsibilities.

“On top of the dancing, we are out in the community all the time each week representing The Lightning at different functions, mingling with fans and sponsors, really just putting on a good face for The Lightning,” Donato said. “It is not just dancing and taking pictures.” 

Continuing, Donato is actively involved in the community and has been this way her whole life. She grew up in a helping household.

     Her mother, Gail Donato said, “She was very involved in animal rescue and still is.”     

Donato helps with animal rescue today and is known to leave food for stray animals outside the stadium before and after games in hopes of capturing them and rehabilitating them. She wants all animals to find a home.

Although her work in the community is liberating she is admired by her friends on The Tampa Bay Lighting Girls team for her outgoing personality and humble nature. Alyssa Gross, captain of the team and close friend, can only say good things about Donato being a member of the team.

“Allison embodies what a Lighting Girl is,” said Gross. “She is what we strive to be and is a great role model in the community.”

    Donato’s love for The Lightning didn’t start when she joined the dance team. It began much earlier than that. Donato can remember going to Lightning games ever since she was a small child and can even recall the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals when The Tampa Bay Lightning won against the Calgary Flames.

“I love the Lightning so much,” said Donato. “ I have been a huge fan of the Lightning ever since I was little. I always went to games with my dad and if we weren’t at a game we were at home watching it on TV.”

This upcoming season will be Donato’s last as a Tampa Bay Lightning Girl but she does not plan on staying away from The Lightning for long. She is leaving to start a career in public relations but her dream is to come back and work within The Lightning’s public relations sector and possibly even join the team once more.

“They are such an amazing organization,” said Donato. “They are so community-oriented and they do so much in the community and so much for the community that being involved in that would just be really awesome.”