By – Teagan Rasche
When families have a child with cancer or another life threatening illness, it can be hard for them to have something to look forward to. That’s where HopeKids comes in.
HopeKids provides events, activities and a powerful, unique support community for families of sick kids. Everything the charity does revolves around the belief that “hope is a powerful medicine.”
The Fiesta Bowl has been a proud partner of HopeKids for the past five years.
“We are so incredibly grateful,” said Andrea Lewis, Family and Community Manager with HopeKids. “The Fiesta Bowl is one of our biggest supporters.”
In 2018, HopeKids was a recipient a $50,000 donation from the Fiesta Bowl. It has already had a major impact.
“This year what we’ll be using the Touchdown Grant for is a private suite at Talking Stick Resort Arena,” Lewis said. “All of our families can enjoy Suns and Mercury games, as well as any concerts or shows that come through there.”
The suite is a safe place for HopeKids families, who sometimes have additional needs such as wheelchair access or simply more space than what average seats offer.
The grant will also go towards HopeKids movie events. The organization will rent out a theater for its families and provide food, drinks and a safe and accepting environment.
“The Touchdown Grant will definitely go far this year,” Lewis said. “The Fiesta Bowl is incredible.”
Founded in Arizona in 2001, HopeKids has now expanded to six states and helped over 4,700 families. Last year, it hosted 565 events for families in Arizona alone.
The Fiesta Bowl also sponsors many of HopeKids’ events, including the popular “Superhero and Star Wars Party” hosted at the Ellie and Michael Zeigler Fiesta Bowl Museum. This kids-only event has face painting, a pizza party, games and characters for the children to get a picture with.
Another function the Fiesta Bowl sponsors is HopeKids’ biggest one, their annual ranch event. The charity goes to a ranch in northern Arizona, where kids and their families can ride horses, have a barbecue and play cowboy games. Last year over 600 people attended.
“We love working with HopeKids, we love the families,” said Jose Moreno, Chief Marketing Officer at the Fiesta Bowl. “There’s a lot of cohesion among our commitment to serving youth in this community and we work with a lot of pediatric cancer non-profits.”
Sports are a big part of both the Fiesta Bowl and HopeKids.
Last year, the Fiesta Bowl donated tickets to HopeKids, so the children and families could attend and enjoy the bowl games.
“So many of our kids have various limitations that they can’t participate in traditional sports,” Lewis said. “HopeKids provides a variety of activities throughout the year so kids can participate in sports in a safe way.”
For the kids who can safely play sports, they get the chance to play games with the football players who come to the PlayStation Fiesta or Cheez-It® Bowl. Last December during the player outreach, LSU had a field day with the kids. The year before that, players from Penn State and HopeKids played kickball.
What differentiates the Fiesta Bowl from other HopeKids donors is the involvement.
“They don’t just write the check,” Lewis said. “They truly go above and beyond.”
Volunteers from the Fiesta Bowl attend HopeKids events and the organization is involved all year long. The various events give families something fun to do during some of the hardest times of their lives.