Brooke Bennett Raises Support for Big Brothers, Big Sisters

TAMPA, Florida, Oct. 18. BROOKE Bennett, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, will participate in the second annual Arby’s Charity Tour Tampa/Pinellas to raise awareness and financial support for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Pinellas County and the Arby’s Foundation.

"Brooke was selected for this initiative because, like the hundreds of mentors who serve the children in our local chapter, she is a role model who has represented our country and made a difference," explained Dwayne Ingram, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay Board Member and Tournament Co-Chairman.

As part of the Tour, Bennett will visit Hillsborough and Pinellas County elementary schools on November 19 and 20 to teach students the six Arby’s Valuable Values: Dream Big, Work Hard, Get It Done, Play Fair, Have Fun and Make a Difference. All of these are character building principles designed to “
"make a difference" in the life of a child.

"It is a great feeling to come home and help a wonderful youth mentoring program like Big Brothers/ Big Sisters," said Bennett. "Arby’s is providing a great opportunity for me to give back to the community I love so much."

A native of Plant City, Fla., Bennett was the only U.S. female to capture two individual gold medals (400m free and 800 m free) at the 2000 Sydney Games.

As a 16-year-old, Bennett broke onto the international scene by winning gold in the 800m freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Bennett, who attended Durant High School, is the No. 14 rated athlete in Tampa Bay’s All-Century Team. In 1995, Bennett was named the USOC's Sports Woman of the Year for swimming.

"We are thankful that Arby’s and Brooke are going out of their way to make a difference in the lives of children in the Bay area," said Susan Rolston, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County, Inc. "Our success is based on corporate support and involvement that brings awareness and funds to our agency’s programs."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County provide mentors to children from primarily single-parent homes through the supportive friendship of adult mentors. Recognized as the premier mentoring program in the United States, Big Brothers Big Sisters is invested in America’s youth through community, school-based and site-based mentoring relationships by providing meaningful, effective friendships to hundreds of children throughout our community.

The results of their efforts are substantial and well documented. A national landmark study (listed on demonstrated: 64% of Littles developed higher levels of self-confidence; 80% improved their academic performance and 53% were less likely to skip school.

While the results are positive, the challenges of recruiting additional Bigs and raising necessary funds are ongoing. To assist BBBS’s efforts, the nationally recognized Arby’s Charity Tour will visit the Bay area to conduct one of the largest fundraising and promotional events of the year for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County.

"The Arby’s Charity Tour demonstrates our commitment to this community and elevates our charitable contributions to a new level," said Al Hodges, president of RTM South, owners and operators of Arby’s restaurants in Florida. "The Arby’s Charity Tour focuses our charitable efforts and maximizes fundraising to help educate consumers about the value of and need for the type of mentoring and support that Big Brothers Big Sisters offers."

Last year, the Arby’s Charity Tour Tampa/Pinellas raised more than $100,000 through a golf tournament, auction and the sale of $1 Make A Difference pin-ups in Tampa Bay area Arby’s. The main fundraising event is the Arby’s Charity Tour Tampa/Pinellas golf tournament and auction November 18 at TPC of Tampa Bay. The tournament is followed by an exclusive auction guest emceed by former MLB All-Star Ron Reed. Register before November 15 by calling Geoff Duncan at (404) 256-7142.

The Arby’s Charity Tour encourages Bay area residents to support Big Brothers Big Sisters by purchasing a $1 "Make-A Difference" Pin-Up in area Arby’s restaurants until November 20.

Watch for the Arby’s Charity Tour Bus and gold medalist Brooke Bennett traveling throughout Tampa November 19 and 20 conducting charity recruiting drives and teaching the Arby’s Valuable Values lessons. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please visit the Arby’s Charity Tour Bus in the Bay area or call BBBS of Tampa Bay at (813) 287-2210 or BBBS of Pinellas County at (727) 518-8860.

The Arby’s Charity Tour is a series of golf tournaments and special events held throughout the United States to raise awareness and funds for local Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Arby’s Foundation and other youth mentoring organizations. Since its inception in 1996, the Arby’s Charity Tour has raised over $8 million for youth organizations across the country.

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