Thunderbirds Charities donates $1M to Special Olympics

Representatives from Special Olympics Arizona, The Thunderbirds and the Arizona Department of Corrections, along with the Governor of Arizona, held a groundbreaking ceremony in April for a new Special Olympics Arizona state office. (Submitted photo)

Thunderbirds Charities, the charitable giving arm of The Thunderbirds — hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open — announced a record-breaking donation of $1 million has been gifted to Special Olympics Arizona.

The donation is the largest single gift handed out by Thunderbirds Charities since its inception in 1937, according to a press release, and the gift will help support the building of a new Special Olympics Arizona state office and distribution center adjacent to Perryville Prison in Goodyear.

“We’re extremely proud of every charitable contribution we make to our local communities, but this gift to Special Olympics Arizona — the largest in our organization’s history — is extremely special,” said 2019 WM Phoenix Open Tournament Chairman Chance Cozby, in a prepared statement.

“This gift is only possible through the incredible support we receive from our corporate partners and from the best fans in golf who attend the WM Phoenix Open each year. We’re honored and humbled to have such a strong giving presence in the Valley.”

This much needed new facility, which will be led by JE Dunn Construction, will provide statewide support for programs and events that are not just for Special Olympic athletes and personnel, but also for the community and sporting events that focus on inclusion.

Attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony entered down a red carpet. (Submitted photo)

It will provide a center for distribution services, uniform production, equipment, and an efficient facility for youth and inclusive sports in the state of Arizona, the press release stated.

“This new state office and distribution center will provide programs, services and equipment to 25,000 athletes and unified partners across the state of Arizona,” Jamie Heckerman, CEO of Special Olympics Arizona, said in a prepared statement. “We are grateful for this partnership with The Thunderbirds and the Arizona Department of Corrections to make this much needed project possible.”

The Arizona Department of Corrections has partnered with SOAZ on this project and has created an inmate work crew to benefit SOAZ while also providing services and classes for inmates.

The building will be sustained by inmate labor with equipment maintenance, repair and management, while also providing job training for inmates to stop recidivism into prison system, provide classes in auto maintenance and repair, design/art work, printing for SOAZ uniforms and banners.

“The Arizona Department of Corrections is proud of its partnership with Special Olympics Arizona and we are excited to host its new distribution center on the grounds of the Perryville Complex,” said ADC Director Charles Ryan.

“It will create additional skill development and employment opportunities for our inmates, and enable us to support the organization’s important and growing efforts to provide inclusive community programs and events throughout the state for years to come.”

Representatives from Special Olympics Arizona, The Thunderbirds and the Arizona Department of Corrections, along with the Governor of Arizona and the Mayor of Goodyear, officially break ground on the new project in April, that is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

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