Bruce and Chris Arians talk to the media in January at the Phoenix Open about their foundation and its work to help Arizona's CASA program.
Chris Arians has helped dozens of children over the years in her role as a court-appointed special advocate – a CASA, helping abused and neglected kids – and all hold a place in her heart.
But none have resonated with her and her husband, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, like April Mingone.
"She and I just had a special bond," Chris Arians said.
Chris Arians first started working with April when Bruce was coaching with the Steelers years ago. With April close to aging out of
the system, Chris Arians got permission to take her out of state on a trip, visiting the Arians' "forever" home in Georgia and then taking a side visit with the Arians family to New Orleans. So began a relationship with the Arians family that extends to today – April is set to visit the Arians clan again in a few weeks.
"Just an amazing child," Bruce Arians said. "To have a positive influence, which my wife was for her … you can only save them one at a time."
As Bruce Arians hosts his annual golf tournament this weekend to raise money – and CASA awareness -- for the Arians Family Foundation, his thoughts turn quickly to the kids impacted.
That's been the goal of Chris. The one-time family law attorney practiced law for 15 years as she followed her husband around the country from coaching job to coaching job. She was licensed in five different states, taking four different bar exams, and it was while Bruce was in his first Indianapolis stint from 1998 to 2000 that Chris began working as a CASA.
When Bruce Arians left the Colts to work for the Browns, Ohio was telling Chris Arians she'd have to take the bar exam again to get her license there. No thanks, she said. Bruce would have to support the two, and she went all-in on her CASA work.
"That freed me up," she said. "I never looked back."
Bruce Arians starts to get emotional when he talks about child abuse – "I don't understand how someone could do that," he said – and acknowledged that when his wife first got into her CASA work, he just wanted to "fix it."
That works well with what Chris Arians wants to do. More hands-on, Chris Arians never was that big into starting a foundation just to raise money for the cause. That, she felt, could be Bruce's thing. What she understands now, however, is that with the profile Bruce cuts as an NFL head coach, the publicity and awareness created is nearly as valuable as the actual money raised.
"The CASA program in Arizona was like a hidden gem," Chris Arians said. "No one knew about it. So the ability to get the word out is priceless."
It allows more success stories like April Mingone. Mingone has a health issue and "life is still hard," Chris said, but has connected with the Arianses and has a life better than where it once was.
"We can help a lot more kids now," Bruce Arians said.
Images from Bruce Arians' charity golf tournament on Saturday at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.