Athletes fill the philanthropy gap in Phoenix

Phoenix-based non-profits suffer from a lack of corporate sponsorships available in headquarter hubs, like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. But Phoenix is one of the few cities with all major professional sports, and a popular retirement community for athletes. As a result, as the temperatures start to rise, so do the number of unique sports-related philanthropic events that keep Arizona non-profits alive.

On April 19, 2016, the Arizona Community Foundation hosted a conversation with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is a multi-tasking philanthropist. His outreach has benefited everyone from AIDS and cancer patients to Alhambra school children to University of Phoenix scholarship recipients to Africans needing fresh water. Fitzgerald credits his grandfather and mother with teaching him the value of giving. He says, “The real heroes are not athletes, but the teachers who get up every day and make $35,000 a year.” The next of Fitzgerald’s many charity events—the 6th Annual Larry Fitzgerald Double Play Celebrity Softball Game Weekend—will be April 23 at Salt River Fields.

One of the biggest annual charity events is Celebrity Fight Night, which was held on April 9, 2016, at the JW Marriott Resort. Athletes, celebrities, and business icons come to enjoy the entertainment, bid on auction items, pay homage to Muhammed Ali, and benefit charities.

The Shadowboxers were newcomers, eager to share choruses from their upcoming performances for reporters on the red carpet. “This is an amazing experience,” they said. “We love to play to make a difference.” Meanwhile, Comedian Sinbad was back for the fourth time.

Football coaches and players were plentiful. AZ Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians said “Nothing compares to this.” He has his own Arians Family Foundation fundraiser coming up at Steak 44 on May 22. Kurt and Brenda Warner praised “the way people open up their hearts” and the “far-reaching impact of Fight Night.”


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