A Real Game Changer: Sun Devil Family Charities and Sun Devil Club Collaborate to Benefit ASU Sports Medicine Program

From players to coaches and even the beloved mascots, the world of collegiate sports has no shortage of heroes. However, not all heroic deeds are done in front of the cameras as one coalition of dedicated charitable organizations has recently proven.

Arizona’s own Sun Devil Family Charities and the Sun Devil Club have been enhancing the student-athlete experience and spearheading philanthropic endeavors for years by raising resources for athletic scholarships and endowments with little fanfare, but plenty of heart.  Following is a new chapter in the quest of these two organizations.

A team is made up of much more than just the players on the field. Clearly, the athletes and coaches surface as the most visible components and the ones that enjoy the fanfare and notoriety. Yet, in the background, integral to the team are the ancillary participants – including (but not limited to) team doctors, trainers, and even the fans who make the participation possible.

This combining of talents is not specific to the world of sports. Any endeavor that is worthwhile comes from a team effort that involves visible heroes and a supporting cast. Be it a play, a movie, a concert, or even a medical procedure, the background players are just as vital as the foreground participants in insuring the team’s success.

If anyone knows the importance of teamwork, it is Sun Devil Family Charities Co-founder and Legacy Board Member Joe Cajic. A former Arizona State University offensive guard, in the mid-’90s Joe received the shock of his life when he was diagnosed with leukemia (and a form that required a bone marrow transplant).

At the same time, J.P. Patchett sought to create a golf tournament for someone in need; he reached out to Joe, and this collaboration soon blossomed into a full-on team effort involving ASU athletes, coaches, alumni, families, and students. A donor was found for Joe in 1999 – and Joe’s bone marrow transplant was a success. He now lives cancer-free, but the story of the collaborative efforts doesn’t end there.

Joe, J.P. and others formed Sun Devil Family Charities in 2009. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was created primarily for the purpose of raising funds to provide financial assistance to families associated with ASU adversely affected by medical issues and hardship. The organization is staffed entirely by volunteers – alumni, staff, and even fans – with minimal overhead and a goal to distribute 100% of funds received back to the ASU community.

In the same spirit of giving, the Sun Devil Club is dedicated to providing resources that afford Arizona State’s Sun Devil student-athletes the opportunity to thrive and grow. For the 650-plus Sun Devil student-athletes competing in 26 varsity sports, Sun Devil Club’s support is the foundation for their collegiate experience, which is unlike any other in the nation.

For the donors and the athletes alike, it’s a true win-win as the Sun Devil Club invests in the future of Arizona’s emerging student-athlete superstars through scholarships, academic programs, state-of-the-art facilities, and top-notch medical care, as well as an innovative approach to career and personal development through Sun Devil Athletics’ Championship Life program.

Therefore, it is a natural fit for the Sun Devil Family Charities and the Sun Devil Club to collaborate and establish an endowment to benefit students in ASU’s outstanding Sports Medicine Program. A leader in the sports medicine field, the ASU Sports Medicine Program embraces a complete health-care approach that includes physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and dietitians among other professionals.

The fund has been established in the amount of $25,000 – with the potential to increase substantially – and will present awards to qualifying student-athletes who are enrolled in the College of Health Solutions or College of Nursing and Health Innovations and are active participants in the Sports Medicine Program.

The endowment will be used in support of those involved in the education, training, and health-care needs of ASU student-athletes – including the often prohibitive costs of rehabilitation from injury – the scholarship is uniquely positioned to establish an avenue of outreach and a much-needed resource for those who are experiencing medical hardship.

The newly established endowment between Sun Devil Family Charities and Sun Devil Club is a commitment to support the health and infrastructure of the ASU athletic community and its world-class student-athletes. As current SDFC board member Ray Ciferno points out, “This is about a partnership that not only serves and promotes the efforts of ASU’s student athletes, but reaches to and recognizes the efforts of those individuals instrumental to supporting the health and well-being of those athletes.” 

There’s more work to be done, of course, and no shortage of those in need of encouragement and financial support in their journey to greatness. This endowment is a quantum leap in the right direction as two of Arizona’s charitable organizations work together to break down barriers for a new generation of ASU overachievers.

For more information on the Sun Devil Family Charities’ ongoing efforts to raise awareness, work with community leaders and volunteers from all walks of life, and provide critical outreach to those that require medical hardship assistance, please visit SunDevilFamily.org – and to make a much-appreciated contribution to the cause, you’re invited to visit the Sun Devil Club’s donation portal today.

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