Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Arizona pro teams use free time to help others during coronavirus

Pro sports in Arizona may be sidelined but owners, teams and players are taking the time out to help others during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

From hefty cash donations to paying salaries for furloughed stadium and arena workers, here’s a rundown of some of their efforts.

Cardinals’ Bidwill donates $1 million for relief fund

Arizona Cardinals Chairman and President Michael J. Bidwill committed $1 million to the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund. The fund is part of an initiative to help Arizona workers on the frontlines of the virus as well as businesses, nonprofits and residents harmed by the virus outbreak.

Governor Doug Ducey launched the initiative last month, called Arizona Together. It is connecting those affected to a wide array of resources from financial assistance and medical assistance to meals for low-income pupils missing school.

The initiative also aims to raise money for struggling community organizations and recruit volunteers statewide. 

To get donations started, Bidwill is donating $1 million to the relief fund. 

The fund is supporting frontline community organizations dealing with the pandemic. Donations are being used to purchase protective equipment for medical personnel, expand technology access to low-income students, and support nonprofits like food banks, homeless shelters and domestic violence facilities.

Cardinals players donate dollars, meals 

Two Cardinals players also announced generous donations to help people most in need. 

Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones is donating 150,000 meals to the St. Mary’s Food Bank and Midwest Food Bank in Arizona and Mother Teresa’s Cupboard in New York.

“These are really tough times and it is important for me to do my part and help out both here in Arizona and back at home in New York,” Jones said in a written statement. “There are a lot of people in need and everything we can do as a community makes a difference.”

In turn, the team’s new wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, is donating $150,000 to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Hopkins, who played with the Houston Texans before being acquired by the Cardinals this year, took to twitter last month to announce the donation and send a message to his “new Arizona family.”

“I can’t wait until everything settles down so I can get out there and play in front of you all,” Hopkins wrote. “Until then I wanted to do my part for my new community and donate $150,000 to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund. Stay safe and rise up, Red Sea.”

While the team is currently in off-season, it is one of many NFL operations that have closed offices and cancelled events and training.

D-Backs donate $550,000 for community emergency relief 

The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation is donating $550,000 to Arizona-based non-profit organizations for immediate assistance to help those most vulnerable during the national emergency.

The charitable contribution will be spread among nonprofits that provide  emergency food supply and distribution as well as support for children of working healthcare professionals.

“We have had many employees offer to volunteer at local food banks while still practicing social distancing, as each of them simply wants to help those around us,” stated D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. “It is not just our civic responsibility, but our honor to be of service to our community during these challenging times.”

Major League Baseball has also donated $1 million to emergency food services, and each team pledged $1 million for ballpark workers affected by the shutdown. It has also announced support for minor-leaguers, who haven’t been paid since August. 

Arizona Coyotes brass donate portion of salaries

Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen and General Manager John Chayka are donating 20 percent of their salaries over the coming months to support the Coronavirus Relief Fund and other nonprofits working to combat COVID-19’s impact in Arizona. 

Coyotes owner, Chairman, and Governor Alex Meruelo set the example shortly after the NHL paused the season March 12, when he instituted a plan to support Coyotes part-time and hourly staff and Gila River Arena part-time and hourly employees through the remainder of the team’s original 2019-20 regular-season schedule.

“We are going through a difficult time right now and how we respond to this challenge will define us,” said at the time.  

Phoenix Suns paying arena workers through the season

Of the major professional sports leagues, the NBA has been hit the hardest with positive coronavirus tests. Fourteen people from seven of the 30 NBA organizations have tested positive for the virus that reached pandemic status this month, according to CBS Sports.

For the Phoenix Suns, the virus halted the season at 26-39.

Soon after, the team announced that all Talking Stick Resort Arena workers will receive compensation for the remaining Suns games canceled in March. 

Suns Devin Booker pledges to raise $100,000 

Player Devin Booker, in partnership with Phoenix Suns Charities, is raising money through livestreaming on Twitch to support nonprofits that serve the most needy.  

NBA All-Star Booker pledged $100,000 to tip off the campaign and the Suns Charities is matching the donation. Funds will benefit nonprofits like the Arizona Food Bank Network, the Foundation for Senior Living, and Banner Health Foundation.

“With countless people around the globe turning to streaming to get their mind off things, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to bring people together, raise awareness and help those in need at the same time,” Booker said in announcing the effort.

“These are trying times that transcend basketball and I would like to call on everyone to be good teammates as we deal with this challenge together.”Additional donations can be made through Booker’s Twitch Channel: Twitch.tv/DBook

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Victoria Harker

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