Gene Karzen, former UCLA athlete, created The Bruin Fan Alliance, providing an opportunity for athletes to mentor children.
Gene Karzen created The Bruin Fan Alliance with one main goal: create a “big brother or big sister” connection between kids and its ambassadors. There are 15 Bruin Fan Alliance ambassadors, all former athletes, that come back to reconnect with their alma mater while also providing special experiences for children.
Karzen said, “It’s really not about this day, it’s about creating a friendship that will last. If even one or two of these (children) have a moment in their lives where they need to talk to someone and their parents aren’t available, or aren’t around … we want to make sure they have access to our ambassadors.” Many children don’t have mentors in their lives. These former athletes can provide that outlet and create a special friendship that lasts a lifetime.
This is a unique organization, because it is one of the first programs that get former athletes involved in the community. Many times, current student athletes are active in their communities. This helps ensure that their impact is felt beyond a player’s four or five years on campus. The Bruin Fan Alliance allows former athletes to continue giving long-term. If athletes are exposed to this on campus, they might be inclined to participate in these types of programs after their playing careers have ended. Furthermore, this keeps former letter winners connected to the school for which they competed. It is a great way to engage athletes and, while not the primary goal, could also lead to development opportunities down the road for the university.
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