Big and Little Heroes is a collaboration between Children's Hospital, California State University, Fresno, and the Fresno Downtown Rotary. The program grew from a simple idea during the first California Bowl in the 1980's. Football players from both teams were matched with a "little buddy" from Children's Hospital who came to watch the game. Many of the players continued those relationships, writing letters, visiting, and meeting again for other football games. The Downtown Fresno Rotary club saw the value of the program, sponsoring and developing it over the next 25 years. Today fifty Fresno State student athletes are paired with twenty five patients from Children's for special activities throughout the school year.
The program provides a rewarding mentoring opportunity for the students and gives the patients something special to look forward too all through the year. The events range from pizza parties and carving pumpkins together in October to bowling together at Fresno State, or going to a game to see the students athletes play. Some of the pairs stay together for several years in a row, building a relationship that provides a boost for both the Big and Little Heroes.