TAMPA, Fla. — As the head coach of the Buccaneers, Bruce Arians took the Bucs out of some of the franchise’s worst days and led them to the pinnacle of pro sports last year. It was his goal on day one when he arrived three years ago to Tampa.
Unpacking her bags right behind him with a different goal in mind was his wife of 50 years, Christine. Twenty years ago, as a family law attorney, Christine saw how abuse was tearing families and children apart.
"So I took this class and I was like ‘Yes this is what I want to do,'” said Christine.
It was on that day that Christine decided to be a champion for children who needed to be shielded in their darkest days of abuse and neglect. She became what is known as a Guardian Ad Litem. It's the name for a court-appointed special advocate for at-risk children. At times it is the only adult they can trust.
"They form a relationship with that child. And one of the things I found over the years that was just the most important thing for me was to just model to the kids a different way of living. A different way of doing things. You know drama doesn’t have to be part of people’s daily lives. But a child only knows what they live," said Christine.
Along with her husband Bruce, Christine now spearheads the Arians Family Foundation. The mission is to raise money and make sure that children who are involved in the court system, as a result of abuse or neglect by their families, receive the love and help they need.
Christine doesn’t want a trophy. She now wants to find more volunteers to help children caught in the system.
"There’s sexual abuses cases. There’s trafficking cases. There’s physical abuse cases. Just horrible things. Most of them aren’t like that though. Most of them are neglect," said Christine who has been part of the program since Bruce was coaching two decades ago in a different city.
Every Spring, the Arians host one of the most star-studded fundraisers in sports bringing out the most famous names around. This past April it was a golf outing that raised well into the high six-figures.
"What I realized real quickly is the program needs publicity as much as anything," said Christine.
A Guardian Ad Litem volunteer helps by not only being a person the child can trust but also helps interview the people who know the child or what they are going through. They then report that to the court so a judge can make the best-informed decision for that child's welfare.
"What is this child’s best interest. Do they need more counseling? Do they need better medical care? Do they need help with school? Do they need to be removed from the home? Or do they need to be in a different placement," explained Christine.
She added that a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer undergoes several hours of training and ongoing training. If you would like more information on Guardian Ad LItem programs here are some links: