The Phoenix Suns are more than just Arizona’s basketball team… The Phoenix Suns Charities‘ slogan is “Winning on and off the court.” Amply named since every year they are involved in countless acts of kindness throughout the valley. The Jump Ball, the most recent venture of the charity organization, will occur on March 1. Talking Stick Resort  in Scottsdale will fill up with around one thousand elite philanthropists of Arizona and Suns players for a one of a kind fundraising gala event. With sponsors from National Bank of Arizona to Porsche, the night will surely be one to remember.

This year’s theme of  “Ignite the Future,” aims to “Ignite the Future for Arizona Kids.” In addition to lighting the charitable fire, guests will also be able to fire up their dancing shoes as the entertainment for the night is a Michael Jackson tribute band. After that, award winning DJ Roonie G will spin records the rest of the night to keep the smiles going.

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Suns Charities executive director, Robin Milne, answered SmartFem’s questions on the highlights and history of Jump Ball and what to look forward to at this year’s event.

How long has Jump Ball existed?

Phoenix Suns Charities has held a gala every year since 1988. The name has changed throughout the years. It started off as the Courtside Classic, then in 2007 became Suns and Stars, and last year, 2013, was the first year the gala has been called “THE JUMP BALL” to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Phoenix Suns Charities.

Why is this event important to the Valley, the Suns, and Arizona as a whole?

Phoenix Suns Charities was formed with the mission to enhance the lives of Arizona’s children and their families by actively creating and supporting programs in the areas of education, health, human services, the arts, rehabilitation and sports and recreation. The proceeds from the fundraising we do at The Jump Ball allow Suns Charities to invest in the future of Arizona children. It also allows us to connect our Suns players to the Suns community, both of whom have a heart for serving kids in need.

What do the players do at the event?

The players are actively involved in various parts of the gala. Their specific role changes each year, and is always a surprise treat for our guests.

What charities are benefiting from Jump Ball?

75-100 nonprofits will be funded across the state. Boys and Girls clubs, Food Banks and Education programs are some examples.

Damian Brantley as Michael JacksonWhy a Michael Jackson tribute this year?

Michael Jackson’s music is both legendary and timeless, and is something that can be enjoyed by all generations. We came across Damian Brantley and this tribute band and knew they’d be perfect to “ignite” the entertainment and dance portion of our gala this year.

What will be auctioned off during the event?

We always have exciting silent and live auction items available for guests that include trips, jewelry, art and one-of-a-kind Phoenix Suns experiences.

What is the hardest part of coordinating the Jump Ball?

Worrying about not missing any detail. We want our guests to know we thought about them individually.

What is your favorite part of being the Executive Director for this event?

Watching and appreciating the culmination of a year of leveraging the resources of the Phoenix Suns and all of the effort from Suns employees who put their best effort out to show everyone a good time and support the work of the charity. It is a night of immense gratitude for me and respect for Robert Sarver and his commitment to the children of Arizona.

Check out the Jump Ball site for more information!