WNBA Star Cunningham Giving Back to the Community One Family at a Time

Phoenix Mercury guard Sophie Cunningham is a lot of things – a top professional basketball player, a television broadcast analyst for the Phoenix Suns, and the all-time scoring leader in the history of the University of Missouri women’s basketball. She is also a woman who goes above and beyond to bring some light into the lives of children facing critical health issues.

This season, the sixth-year player is making a difference off the court by personally inviting families staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central and Northern Arizona (RMHCCNAZ) programs to join her at a Phoenix Mercury home game. The families are selected by house staff, and they not only receive tickets to the game they also get some team swag and get to meet Cunningham after the game for a photo opportunity.

“I first learned about the Ronald McDonald House when I was named a McDonald’s All-American my senior year of high school,” says Cunningham. “We spent time at the Chicago Ronald McDonald House, and I was really touched to see little kids and their families showing great strength, hope, and fight.”

The first RMHCCNAZ family to join Cunningham at a home game was the Avitia family from Kingman. Patient Jesus and siblings Ashlyn and Alyce joined their parents Freddy and Aurelia for the game on June 13 against the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

The Avitia family from Kingman got to meet Sophie Cunningham on the court at the June 13 Phoenix Mercury game against the Las Vegas Aces.

“We had never been to a game as a family and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped us get there,” said Freddy Avitia. “Sophie was very nice. Going through this rough time with my son having cancer and not being home or together as a family has been stressful. My son felt like a normal kid and not like a kid with cancer.”

The Leonard family from Indian Wells in Navajo County attended a game on June 18 against the New York Liberty.

“The game was amazing, they got us in really good seats,” said Branon Leonard, father of nine-year-old patient Jaydyn. “Sophie, who we met before at the house Christmas party and the kids loved her, loved seeing her again. The kids are big fans of hers. Fans for life.”

Diana and Nick Beagley from Safford, along with 10-month-old Caspian, attended a game on June 16 and got to spend time chatting with Cunningham.

“The game was so much fun,” said Nick “It was an experience that we will never forget. We have decided to make this a new tradition for us and our son to go to Phoenix Mercury games. It made that much of an impact on us.”

Cunningham has gone all-in this season to help RMHCCNAZ and is even asking her fans to consider donating to the house. A special landing page on the organization’s website has been set up for fans to donate at http://sophieforthehouse.org.

“The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is so important because it provides shelter, food, and comfort for families, and allows them to focus their energy and efforts on their children,” she says. “I send love, blessings, and healing to the families utilizing the Ronald McDonald House and I’m honored to support it.”

Cunningham has committed to bringing families from RMHCCNAZ, along with families from Luke Air Force Base, to each home game this season.


Prior to the game on June 16 against the Seattle Storm, Sophie Cunningham spent time getting to know RMHCCNAZ family Diana and Nick Beagley along with 10-month-old Caspian from Safford.