Former Robinson student named Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow

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Students “Break the Silence” at the January 2016 event.

Sarah Jennewein, Staff Writer

This past Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning recognized Robinson alumnus Katie Cassedy (c/o of 2016) for her service to the Tampa community with the Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow award. The sixth student honored this season, Cassedy received a $25,000 college scholarship as well as a $25,000 donation to the charity of her choice.

Cassedy, now a freshman at Duke, opted to donate to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, the organization with which she partnered to raise awareness about domestic violence with the Break the Silence basketball game, in which students sit in silence until the ninth point is scored, at which point they “break the silence” and begin to cheer.

“Domestic violence is the silent crime because so many of them go unreported,” said Joshua Saunders, the Robinson teacher who assisted Cassedy with the event. “It was a natural fit for what we were trying to do.”

This was not Cassedy’s first experience coordinating a major charitable event. Both a Girl Scout with high honors and GirlTalk mentor for young girls, Cassedy has devoted numerous hours to other volunteer events in Tampa Bay.

Cassedy was inspired by a Publix employee’s story when she was purchasing toys for the Toys for Tots drive at school.

“She told me the heartbreaking story of her niece, a victim of abuse who was eventually killed by her significant other,” Cassedy said. “I listened to her story as she told me how the Spring reached out with help…As I walked out of Publix that morning, I knew something needed to be done.”

Cassedy contacted the Crisis Center and the Spring, met with managers at both organizations to ensure the event accomplished their goals as well as hers, and organized all aspects of the event, from publicity to speakers at the game.

“I want to empower high school student to break the silence by introducing them to the signs of unhealthy relationships before encountering potential trouble in college,” Cassedy said. “Many high school students enter college unaware of the dangers of domestic and sexual violence and also unaware of where to turn for help.”

Thanks to Cassedy’s efforts, the message continue to be spread not only at Robinson, but at other high schools in the area as well. Cassedy’s younger sister will continue the Break the Silence tradition at the Robinson/Jefferson basketball game on Jan. 20.

“You don’t have to be a Cassedy to do it, you just have to be passionate,” Saunders said. “Katie was really passionate about the issue, and once you learn about it, it’s easy to become committed to it.”