Arizona Lottery gives $50K for underserved student athletes


Banner Sports Medicine leaders
(from left) Dr. Lederman, Dr. Erickson &
John Gilliland of the Arizona Lottery.

The Arizona Lottery recently presented a $50,000 Gives Back Sponsorship check to the Banner Health Foundation. The funds will help cover the costs of sports physicals and concussion testing for over 1,500 underserved high school athletes through Banner’s “Game On: Youth Athlete Support Fund.”

Kids and teens are at risk of concussion if they play contact sports such as football, soccer, hockey, wrestling, and cheerleading. In fact, nearly one in four American teens has suffered at least one concussion. A 2021 study by the American Academy of Orthopaedics revealed that head injuries during sports activities have increased more than 200% among female athletes between the ages of 14 and 18. And earlier this month, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute released a study showing that kids who've suffered a concussion are at heightened risk of mental health issues.

Fortunately, Banner Health is expanding Arizona’s youth sports medicine services with outreach to underserved communities across the state.

Evan Lederman, M.D., Chief of Sports Medicine for Banner Health and Steven M. Erickson, M.D., Chief of Primary Care for Sports Medicine, are working together to spearhead preventative care for student athletes.

"Injuries are an inherent part of any youth sports program, but injury rates can be decreased by up to 50% if preventative programs are implemented,” Dr. Lederman said. “Our goal is to expand access to sports physicals and concussion testing, especially to student athletes who can’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses for these assessments.”

Dr. Erickson explained that Banner has assembled a team of sports medicine and concussion specialists who are taking a comprehensive approach to concussion care by providing baseline concussion testing for children and adults to identify neurocognitive, balance, fine motor and visual integration issues.

“Concussion baseline testing plays a critical role in a young athlete’s well-being and is invaluable when sports concussions occur,” Dr. Erickson said. “While sports related concussions are more common in contact sports, they can occur with any activity. We are very grateful to the Arizona Lottery for recognizing the need to help student athletes overcome economic barriers to these important assessments.”

Arizona Lottery Gives Back to the Community

Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Arizona Lottery has generated more than $4.8 billion in support of programs that help to improve the quality of life for the people of Arizona.

Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars from Arizona Lottery ticket sales go to programs and organizations doing good in four key areas: higher education, health and human services, environmental conservation, and economic and business development.

“The Arizona Lottery was surprised to learn that so many student athletes suffer from the long-term effects of head injuries, as well as the number of young people who may not be able to participate because of the cost of a sports physical. We are proud to assist Banner Health in their efforts to ensure young athletes in underserved communities get the same level of care as any others,” said Arizona Lottery Executive Director Gregg Edgar. “The ‘Game On’ Youth Athlete Support Fund is the very type of program that our Gives Back sponsorships are designed to support. These sponsorships are funded with Arizona Lottery marketing dollars that, instead of being used in traditional advertising campaigns, are used to help non-profits across Arizona accomplish their missions while helping us to tell our story.”