On Tuesday, Jan. 1, the Stanford Cardinal outplayed the Wisconsin Badgers and walked away with a Rose Bowl victory. On Saturday, Jan. 5, some 40 area high-school students will stride onto that same storied Pasadena gridiron, but for a far different reason. These young men, led by Loyola High School senior and San Marino resident Brendan Doney, will be raising money to benefitkids—many in their own age group—who are trying to navigate their way through immense life challenges.
This will be the third-consecutive year that 18-year-old Brendan has helmed this unique fund-raising event dubbed “Battle of the Bowl.” Event proceeds benefit the youngsters—many of whom have endured unimaginable trauma—and families served by Hathaway Sycamores Child and Family Services, one of Los Angeles County’s largest private providers of children’s mental-health services. A portion of the proceeds also are donated to the Rose Bowl Legacy Campaign. Todd Doney, Brendan’s father and a longtime supporter of Hathaway-Sycamores, created the flag-football fundraiser in 2004. In 2010, the elder Doney turned over the event’s reins to Brendan, who not only possesses pigskin expertise—having played four years at Loyola, most recently as varsity quarterback—but who also is a veteran volunteer. (In addition to Battle of the Bowl, Brendan’s volunteerism includes extensive tutoring and mentoring. In fact, come January, he’ll be spending most of the month tutoring and coaching at Eagle Rock’s St. Bernard School.)
Since its inception, Battle of the Bowl—which is divided into two, 45-minute halves—has raised more than $185,000 to help fund the therapeutic and other support services Hathaway-Sycamores provides to more than 9,000 children and families annually. Brendan has set his sights on surpassing last year’s total of $25,000, which is raised through two avenues: each of the 40 participating players—most of whom are Brendan’s fellow students at Loyola—raise $250; Brendan and his father corral corporate sponsors, which this year include Nestlé, Wells Fargo, Western Asset Management, Wetzel’s Pretzels, and Worthe Real Estate Group. Brendan—who utilizes his social-media skills to recruit players and supporters—also is responsible for setting rosters for the two teams, which are named Swagger (quarterbacked by Brendan) and Class (quarterbacked by Pacific Palisades’ Chad Kanoff who’s slated to play QB at Vanderbilt) and outfitting all players in customized jerseys.
While Brendan hopes to lead the Swagger on to victory, he’s motivated by a much more important goal. As he puts it, “A lot of the kids that Hathaway-Sycamores helps are near the same age as me, and they’ve faced more adversity then I’ll probably ever experience.” Brendan adds, “Part of our school’s motto is ‘men for others,’ and my friends and I have really embraced this. We feel an obligation to help those who are less fortunate and to provide for the community.” Brendan also says that his Battle of the Bowl experience has taught him that “giving of yourself and your time is more rewarding than anything you can receive.”
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