Ronnie Perez looks out at the Phoenix Salvation Army Kroc Center football field. In front of him, more than 100 kids are being coached by former NFL players and coaches.
The smile on his face says it all.
“This facility is where the youth clinic originally started,” Perez, a longtime Fiesta Bowl volunteer explained. “I have been part of this event since the beginning and I grew up around here so it is nice to bring the Youth Football Clinic back home and serve the community.”
Born and raised in south Phoenix, Perez grew up with the Fiesta Bowl, attending the National Bank of Arizona Fiesta Bowl Parade years before he became a volunteer. In 1992, Perez began volunteering to help a friend with the hospitality suite during game week and was instantly hooked. His journey with the Fiesta Bowl has since come full-circle.
“Now I work the parade and when I go down the route and I can see kids smiling and waving at me and just enjoying life,” said Perez. “It is important to me to give back and to see other people smile.”
Over the years, Perez has been one of the most active volunteers, dedicating his time to the many events the Fiesta Bowl puts on throughout the year, joining staff at monthly volunteer outings for local charities and of course during game week for both the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and Cactus Bowl.
“The success of the Fiesta Bowl organization comes at the hands of the volunteers as they are truly the backbone to it all,” said Ryan Diller, Fiesta Bowl game & event operations manager. “For nearly three decades, Ronnie Perez has been the face of Fiesta Bowl volunteerism with his unparalleled leadership, dedication and contagious enthusiasm. We are so fortunate to have Ronnie as part of the Fiesta Bowl family, as he truly embodies everything the organization stands for with his relentless passion for serving the local community.”
While Perez has enjoyed the many football moments he has been a part of, noting the Ohio State/Miami national championship game in 2003 as his favorite, he continues to volunteer for what the opportunities have provided him away from football.
“Memories, there are so many,” said Perez. “Just being out here and being a part of events like the Youth Football Clinic that benefit the community is awesome. Every time I do something there is a brand new memory and I have met so many great people who I consider great friends now.”
All of Perez’s volunteer efforts were recognized in 1996 and again in 2016, when Perez was named The Glenn Hawkins Fiesta Bowl Volunteer of the Year.
“It was a very great honor,” Perez reflected. “I got a little emotional. It feels good to be appreciated and what you do is acknowledged and people respect it. I am happy when others win similar awards because I know other volunteers out here are well-deserving of it as well.”
Every event put on by the Fiesta Bowl requires a dedicated team of individuals that sacrifice their time and talent to help the Fiesta Bowl mission come to life. With a base of over 3,000 volunteers, Board of Directors, Yellow Jacket Committee and ambassadors, the Fiesta Bowl family is committed to fostering a culture of community outreach and service, prioritizing youth, sports and education.
The community impact of the Fiesta Bowl organization is what keep volunteers like Perez coming back each year, committing their time and effort to enhancing the Arizona community.
“The importance of helping others was instilled by my mom and dad who taught me that every day you have to live life to the fullest,” explained Perez. “Continuing to give back is the most important thing in life, as well as being happy and enjoying life because it is too short.”
To learn more about how to get involved, click here.