Better Arizona

Waste Management Phoenix Open raises money for Arizona students

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(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)

Big name professional golfers like Tiger Woods and Phil Michelson have helped draw half a million people a year to the Waste Management Phoenix Open through the years.

But perhaps the biggest winners are Phoenix students like Bernice Avila.

"My dream is to get a scholarship," she said.

She along with Jesus Luna, another eighth grade Phoenix student, have big aspirations.

"I'll be one of the first in my family to go to college," Luna said.

"I wanna go further. I wanna do something with my life. I wanna be somebody," Avila adds.

These students are getting a head start through their participation in Be A Leader Foundation, one of the more than 150 Valley organizations and nonprofits supported by Thunderbird Charities with the millions of dollars generated by the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"Really, because of their generosity we've been able to grow the way that we have. The more dollars we receive the more students we can provide services for," said Melissa Trujillo, President and CEO of Be A Leader Foundation.

"It's really cool. I get to do a lot of fun stuff and I also get to learn a lot about what to do better in high school," Avila said about the program.

The number of students Be a Leader Foundation has reached has grown from 32 8th grade children from one school district in 2002  to 26,000 students, including 33 high schools across the state.

"They're just looking for someone to help show them the path and that's what we do, and we do it in a fun way," Trujillo said.

Participating students gather once a month for workshops covering topics like goal-setting and developing good decision-making skills.

"It keeps me more focused and I'm around positive energy and it helps," Luna said.

Their involvement means these students voluntarily spend their Saturday mornings trying to better their future.

Trujillo says that is proof of the program's worth.

"It says the need is there and the kids search and find us because they're hungry for the information," she said.

Bernice said her involvement isn't just for her future, but for the future of her siblings.

"I do this especially for my siblings because I want them to look up to me and say nothing is impossible."

Click Be A Leader Foundation for more information.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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