Big Brothers Big Sisters event garners $200K for local mentoring program

Big Brothers Big Sisters February event was a game for the ages with a lineup that included Arizona Diamondbacks legend Luis Gonzalez and Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone.

More than 550 MVPs joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization to celebrate the power of mentoring. Guests warmed up for the evening at a cocktail party where they mixed and mingled, purchased Mystery Boxes, met several of the Big and Little matches, and posed in the photo booth, according to a press release.

Emcee Paul Horton, Chief Meteorologist of KPHO CBS 5 and BBBSAZ Advisory Council member, welcomed the crowd and kept the ball rolling.

Big and Little matches told baseball-themed jokes and kept the atmosphere lively, the press release stated.

Sheriff Penzone shared about how having one caring, committed adult can change a child’s life, and that relationship can have a positive impact on the family, the kids’ schools and throughout the community.

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ President and CEO Laura Capello spoke about the organization’s program goals and how donors make it possible for the agency to match more than 1,500 youth each year with caring, supportive mentors, and provide professional support to make sure those matches are successful.

With the help of Event Co-Chairs, Board member Teresa and her husband Casey Strunk, Ms. Capello also presented awards to the Volunteer Bigs of the Year, Ray Hager, Kaitlyn Ruddick and Bill Janiga.

Little Brother Evan, age 17, and Big Brother Ray shared how spending time together has enriched both of their lives. Evan’s mom Cathy, inspired guests by sharing how the program has helped Evan grow and change from a shy boy to a confident young man.

Baseball legend Luis Gonzalez talked about the mentors he had throughout his life — personal and professional — who have provided guidance and advice along with way.

The event concluded with Gonzo inviting all of the Bigs and Littles in the room to join him on stage to lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Donations are still coming but preliminary numbers show that more than $213,000 was raised, the press release stated. This will allow Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Arizona to serve more than 175 Big and Little matches for an entire year.

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