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New record! Bright Side Night 2023 sends over 7,800 kids to a Suns game this year!

Bright Side Night is a fundraiser to send underprivileged kids to their first Suns game, giving them a memory of a lifetime

I am overwhelmed.

When I started blogging on Bright Side a dozen years ago, I never envisioned being able to use this simple little vehicle to give so much back to the Phoenix community, especially young people in struggling families who deserve a memory that gives them a smile for the rest of their lives.

Way back in 2014, the Phoenix Suns group sales team and I devised a plan to organize an annual fundraiser targeted at underprivileged kids throughout the valley. The Suns already had relationships with schools, organizations and community programs who help such kids and their families, while I had a strong fanbase of caring humans visiting me here at Bright Side every day of the year.

So the plan was born — I would use Bright Side to raise the funds and the Suns would do all the rest of the work by planning the evening, offering extra perks to donors, matching every Bright Sider donation, turning donations into tickets and getting them distributed in time for the game.

The footprint of this fundraiser is small. Really small. We’ve only ever asked for donations of $9-15 at a time from a community of sports fans who are facing their own life challenges and struggles. We had no angel investors, only rarely receiving individual donations worth more than 100 tickets at a time.

Yet still, we had raised enough to send more than 12,000 kids to games over the last six years, topping out at 4,400 in 2020 right before the pandemic hit.

This year, we blew all that out of the water!

More than 7,800 tickets will be distributed to underprivileged kids this spring over 8 upcoming home games, including more than 3,000 for tonight’s Suns-Raptors game.

That ticket number is buoyed by an incredibly generous $100,000 investment from incoming owners Mat and Justin Ishbia. We’ve also gotten a 200-ticket donation from Suns marketing partner First Bank.

But even so, YOU and me, our community, produced a record-matching 4,400 tickets again this year, all through donations as little $15 each and with the Suns current ownership group matching every donation. That’s amazing!

Thank you, from the top, middle and bottom of my heart. I will never forget how generous you have been over the years, getting nothing in return but a free forum of constant Suns news.

I was derided in a recent comment under one of my articles recently for working for a network that’s on its way to bankruptcy so, in essence, how dare I question the veracity of any comment from someone who deigns to visit our free blog. And while I immediately began responding in kind, like you’ve seen me do countless times about how this is free and no one’s keeping you here and I’m just a human not a robot blah blah blah, I’m reminded that life is, indeed, fleeting.

Currently, the SB Nation basketball network is being downsized from 31 blogs to 22, and all the associated podcasts are being cut, effective end of February 2023., as a blog, has so far been saved. But once the ball starts rolling down a hill, you know it’s hard to stop it from picking up speed. I now realize that my/our SB Nation existence has a shorter life span than I had always assumed, and that it’s quite possible this is one of the last Bright Side Night fundraisers ever.

If so, count me blessed that 2023 was such an incredible success!

As you might guess, there was never 7,000+ unsold $15 tickets for my fundraiser to grab for tonight’s game. The Raptors/Suns game was the last game of the year, actually, with tickets as low as $15. (Before you complain about the Suns not giving us a price break, remember that they are matching every donation, so the $15 really buys 2 tickets).

With no more than 3,000 $15 tickets available, we had to do some maneuvering. All the $15 tickets are being used for the organic donations like yours, while the Ishbia donation is being applied to tickets in 7 future games this spring with an average ticket price of $32.

Altogether, we are giving out 7,876 tickets this year!

Plus, all donors of 10+ tickets ($150+) were given their own tickets to tonight’s game and were invited to join me in a private interview with GM James Jones.

Also, anyone who donated and attends tonight’s game can take home a custom Bright Side Night t-shirt as a souvenir! We have a box of them on hand, if you can track me or Connor down, or you can just hit up the table inside the front entrance while we are collecting pre-game interview attendees.

And finally, ALL donors from day one to today are entered into a raffle to win a Devin Booker jersey from the Team Shop, and any donors during this past week will get the chance to win a SIGNED Deandre Ayton jersey. Raffle winners will be contacted this week.

Thank you everyone!

You’ve just created thousands upon thousands of joyful memories for youngsters who deserve it.

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