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Arizona Lottery, Banner Health Foundation helping underserved student athletes

Banner’s new “Game On: Youth Athlete Support Fund” to cover the costs of sports physicals and concussion testing, playing a critical role in young athletes’ well-being

Note to editors/producers: High-resolution video from this press conference is available for download here.

PHOENIX (March 18, 2022) – When it comes to the dangers of head injuries, we often hear about celebrities, such as actor Bob Saget’s recent fatal fall, and Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker’s frightening concussion during the playoffs in mid-January.

But the reality is that our kids, nieces, nephews, and neighbors are at risk of concussion, especially 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. Earlier today, the Arizona Lottery presented a $50,000 Gives Back Sponsorship check to Banner Health Foundation, the charitable arm of Banner Health. The funds will help cover the costs of sports physicals and concussion testing for over 1,000 underserved high school athletes through Banner’s “Game On: Youth Athlete Support Fund.”

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.”

Check the Banner Health website for more information about Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Specialists and upcoming testing events.To learn more about how the Arizona Lottery gives back to the community, visit

About Arizona Lottery/Arizona Lottery Gives Back:
Since 1981, the Arizona Lottery and its retail partners have generated more than $4.8 billion in net funding in support of programs that help to improve the quality of life for the people of Arizona. Proceeds from Lottery ticket sales fund programs in higher education, economic development, environmental conservation and health and human services. The mission is to support Arizona programs for the public benefit by maximizing net revenue in a responsible manner. Learn more at
About Banner Health Foundation: 
Established in 2001, the Banner Health Foundation engages the community and stewards charitable contributions to advance Banner Health’s nonprofit mission of making health care easier so life can be better. Contributions are invested locally to support patient care programs and services operated by Banner’s many hospitals and health care facilities across Arizona. Learn more at

Media Contacts:
Arizona Lottery: John Turner Gilliland, 602-702-2758, [email protected]        
Banner Health Public Relations: Sean Logan, 520-301-5266, [email protected]
OH Partners: Sue Kern-Fleischer, 602-810-1404, [email protected]

Banner Health Health Sports Medicine

For further information contact us at: [email protected]

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