Thunderbirds Charities Gives Big Brothers Big Sisters $20,000

Provides vital support for STARS Mentoring Program

PHOENIX – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona has been awarded $20,000 by Thunderbirds Charities to support the origination’s STARS Mentoring Program which serves children who have a parent who has been incarcerated.

“Having a mom or dad in prison can make growing up difficult,” said Susan Wiltfong, vice president of programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Children with an incarcerated parent often need additional support and guidance.”

In 2017, Big Brothers Big Sisters matched 185 youth in the STARS program with adult role models to provide a consistent, positive influence to help them develop into responsible young men and women.

This gift from Thunderbirds Charities will enable Big Brothers Big Sisters to sustain the STARS program and continue to match children who, through no fault of their own, are dealing with circumstances that can impact their self-confidence, academic performance and future endeavors. In addition to having a parent who has been incarcerated, 77% are of an ethnic minority, 74% live in a single parent home, 19% live with grandparents or another relative, 63% have a household income under $30,000, 33% have been exposed to abuse or domestic violence, and 27% have a disability.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters has such a tremendous impact on the welfare of these vulnerable youth in our community,” said Andy Markham, president of Thunderbirds Charities. “Providing role models to help them navigate these critical years is life changing, for both the Bigs and the Littles. We’re happy to assist in their efforts.”

Photo caption: Big Brother Alex is helping Malachi grow into a confident, young man by being his friend and mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters STARS program.


For 62 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona has operated under the belief that, inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As part of the nation’s largest donor and volunteer-supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages six through 18. We develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people, on their families, and on the community. For more information, contact BBBSAZ at 602-264-BIGS or visit


Thunderbirds Charities is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. The Thunderbirds Charities Board consists of 15 board members from varying professional backgrounds. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. The Thunderbirds consist of 55 “active” members and more than 250 “life” members. For more information on the Thunderbirds or the 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit For more information on Thunderbirds Charities, visit