Since 2006, BIGHORN charities have given more than $11.2 million to worthy nonprofit organizations throughout the Coachella Valley.
From Eisenhower Medical Center and College of the Desert to Boys & Girls Club, Children’s Discovery Museum and dozens more, BIGHORN’s three charitable programs — BIGHORN BAM (Behind A Miracle), BIGHORN Cares, and BIGHORN Scholarships — have significantly improved the lives of thousands.
According to BIGHORN Charities and Marketing Director Kelly Levy, it’s all possible because of the generosity of the Club’s 500-plus Members.
“We could not impact the community the way we do without our Members,” says Levy, sitting at her desk in the BIGHORN Clubhouse office. “We have the most generous, supportive Members in the entire valley and it shines through in these charitable organizations.”
Helping Members understand the goals of each BIGHORN charity, who benefits, and the impact it makes, is just one aspect of Levy’s job.
“Our goal is for Members to understand that the charities are all connected,” she says. “Whether it’s providing rides to cancer treatment and funding programs at Eisenhower Medical Center, or supporting the Boys & Girls Club so children have a safe place to go after school, or supporting F.I.N.D. Food Bank, which supplies nourishment, each of these beneficiaries are making this valley a better place to live. And our Members play a huge role in that.”
While it’s all for the greater good of our community, Levy is well aware that when it comes to charity, one size does not fit all.
Members pursue opportunities to help in different ways. Some sponsor and become part of an event or gala, while others want to know that 100% of their donations directly benefit the cause or nonprofit they’re supporting. Many are touched by the amazing BIGHORN employees and want to help those families with their educational needs.
Hands-on volunteer work is another large interest for BIGHORN Members. Opportunities for this outreach have been facilitated through BIGHORN Cares road trips.
On these excursions, Members feed the homeless or read books to children and see first-hand the impact they have on the lives of so many.
Some Members are surprised to learn that donations can also be divided among several charities.
BIGHORN Cares receives approximately 200 grant applications from Coachella Valley nonprofits every July. The beneficiaries are announced in November and fêted at a recipient dinner at BIGHORN in February.
There is a criteria for the nonprofits and their projects, including how many people will benefit from the donations and the long-term sustainability of the project.
“It’s very difficult to choose which groups to fund because there are so many worthy applicants,” Levy says.
With BIGHORN Cares, Levy and her team review the applications and meet the leadership of each nonprofit before making a determination. She says it’s important to know the boards, understand their needs, view the projects and programs, and meet those who will ultimately benefit.
BIGHORN BAM, founded in 2007 by cancer survivor and BIGHORN Member Selby Dunham, hosts several events during the season to raise money to fight cancer. About $8.3 million has been raised over the past decade to support diagnostic technologies, state-of-the-art cancer treatments and equipment, support services and two vans that have provided more than 10,000 rides to cancer patients.
BIGHORN BAM efforts have greatly benefited the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center.
“This would not be a Center of Excellence known for its compassionate, healing, and quality clinical care without the support of BIGHORN BAM,” says L. Laura Fritz, Senior Vice President of the Eisenhower Health Foundation.
“Eleven years of thoughtful fundraising netting over $6.6 million for Eisenhower has provided the latest generation technology — both diagnostic and treatment equipment, and comforting patient care experiences.
“It’s hard to be a cancer patient, so the feeling of having a group of dynamic women in your corner fighting alongside you encourages each and every patient, their family and friends, as well as the entire staff of Eisenhower,” Fritz continues.
With an early and special connection to the Schnitzer/Novack Breast Center, BAM’s gifts were instrumental in being awarded designation as an American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. It is the first facility in the Coachella Valley to earn this designation.
BIGHORN BAM has also heavily supported the Palm Desert-based Pendleton Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Coachella Valley cancer patients with food, gas, utilities and rent assistance while in treatment. BAM gave the group $200,000 last year, says Gina Garside, who has been a Pendleton Board Member since the group launched in 2005.
“Without BIGHORN, we probably would only be able to help half as many people as we do,” she says. The group serves about 80 families a month and has become more well-known as a result of BAM’s donations.
“I have tears in my eyes just talking about it,” Garside says. “It’s awesome what they do. There are not enough words to say how much they’ve helped us.”
Levy recently joined Garside on an outing to help Pendleton serve its clients.
“We went door to door and surprised these cancer patients,” Levy says. “We paid their utilities and gave them gift cards. They opened their homes and their hearts.
We talked about their struggles and how we can support them.”
Since 2006 more than 600 BIGHORN Scholarships have provided financial aid to worthy and needy students in the Coachella Valley, enabling them to attend universities and community colleges. The majority of these scholarships have been granted to BIGHORN employees and their families.
Among the beneficiaries is Mayra Orozco, who has worked 11 years in various positions at BIGHORN, starting in the restaurants and then in payroll. After her first year of employment, she applied for a BIGHORN Scholarship.
“The scholarship from BIGHORN was a tremendous help,” says Orozco, who started at College of the Desert, where she focused on business administration and accounting. The Palm Springs native then attended Cal State San Bernardino to earn her bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Today she is Assistant Human Resources Director at BIGHORN.
“Being able to pursue my education, earning my degree and finding a career at BIGHORN — it’s been an incredible journey for me,” Orozco says.
“I’ve been able to accomplish so much, and without the assistance from BIGHORN, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” the La Quinta resident says. “Having that education has opened up so many opportunities.”