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Fiesta Bowl hands out $1 million in grants to Arizona teachers

PHOENIX — Hundreds of Arizona teachers received exciting news this week courtesy of the Fiesta Bowl, which handed out $1 million to educators.

“We had a program where we asked them what would they do with $5,000, and over 4,000 of them applied for it and we randomly drew names,” Mike Nealy, Fiesta Bowl executive director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

“Two hundred teachers are learning that they won $5,000 today.”

The grants, believed to be the largest donation ever made to Arizona teachers, were part of the Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program.

Nealy said the money was requested for a wide variety of items, including technology and supplies.

“These are teachers that are just looking to improve their classrooms,” he said.

“They’re getting everything from electronics to furniture, some of the things we probably don’t even think of but are big needs in some of the schools.”

The recipients also will be invited to walk in the Fiesta Bowl Parade on Dec. 29 and go on the field to be recognized at the the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field on Dec. 26.

Nathan Johnson, who requested equipment for his physical education classes at Westwood Primary School in Phoenix, was one of the lucky winners.

“It’s a lot of different equipment, and it’s just going to really take my PE program up a notch,” he told KTAR News.

Johnson got the news in a surprise phone call from legendary Valley sports executive Jerry Colangelo.

“I said, ‘Well, I’m having a hard time believing it so I think I actually am believing it that you are very much so Jerry Colangelo,'” Johnson said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood and Nailea Leon contributed to this report.

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