Siblings Jack, Ryan and Marley Woods have always loved attending sporting events and concerts. After realizing many kids don’t have the opportunity to attend such events, they decided they were going to help create these memorable moments for them. When Jack and Ryan were just nine years old and Marley was seven, the Los Angeles-based trio founded Your Golden Ticket, a nonprofit that provides underprivileged children with tickets to live events.
Since 2013, Your Golden Ticket has sent kids to over 200 events that they wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. Each child is also given a ticket for a chaperone, transportation to the event, as well as spending money for food and merchandise. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and live events were put on pause, the Woods partnered with Netflix to provide free accounts to kids instead, and also provided multiple families with gifts over the holidays. Now teenagers, the Woods siblings are working to expand their nonprofit even further.
Describe what Your Golden Ticket does.
Marley: Your Golden Ticket is a nonprofit organization that we started many years ago. We started it to provide underprivileged children with tickets to live events. When COVID happened, it was very difficult for us to make these experiences happen. Now that the world is returning back to normal and live events are picking back up again, we’re taking that as an opportunity for our nonprofit to pick back up again as well. During COVID, we didn’t just stop with the live events. We also sponsored families during the holidays with holiday gifts, and we also partnered with streaming services such as Netflix to give these children opportunities to streaming services.
What inspired you to start Your Golden Ticket?
Ryan: We’re pretty fortunate and we’re lucky to be able to attend and afford tickets to live events. Growing up, we’ve gone to baseball games, soccer games, and football games, and we’ve had incredible experiences at all of them and had a great time going to them. To think that some kids don’t have that opportunity is really sad. One day we wanted to know if we could provide kids these opportunities they wouldn’t be able to have otherwise, and we were like, let’s do it.
Do you have a favorite event you were able to send kids to?
Ryan: There’s so many to choose from. Sending kids to the [National League Championship Series] games for baseball and also the [KIIS-FM] Jingle Ball was really cool, seeing those kids’ reactions and the smiles it brought them. Every experience is awesome for them.
Marley: I love concerts, so sending kids to concerts was really fun to see.
Jack: Sending kids to the World Series. They got emotional hearing about where they’re going.
How do you choose which experiences to send kids to?
Ryan: As siblings, we’ll get together and look up online events in this area, and events in that area. We’ll pick and choose which events seem cool. We’ll reach out to various nonprofits in those areas, and talk to them about the best way to choose kids to get the tickets. When we give the kids the tickets, we normally give them a ticket and give their chaperone a ticket, so they can host them when they go to the event.
Why do you think it’s important for disadvantaged kids to experience this?
Ryan: It’s something nice. A lot of these kids who we’re giving [tickets] to, they’re struggling. They have long commutes to school. They have troubles at home. They have money struggles. Being able to send them to the events gives them an escape, and a time to reset their brain, calm down, and have a positive opportunity to think about for awhile and use to push forward.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
Jack: The most rewarding part is seeing their faces and hearing their reactions.
Do you have any future goals for your nonprofit?
Marley: We want to continue to expand our network across the nation. We have a little bit, but we want to continue that across the U.S. We want to continue to get tickets in the hands of underprivileged children, because it really brings a smile to their faces and it’s so nice to see.
What is it like to be able to do this together as a family?
Ryan: It’s really special because we’re all working together. Siblings fight a lot but this is the one thing that brings us together. We get to forget about all the arguments and stupid things we say to each other during the day. We get to focus and do this together, and it’s really special.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
Jack: I think it’s important because it gives people opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. It’s a source of gratitude for my brother, sister and me.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Jack: Anyone can make a difference. Put your mind to it and start doing it.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Jack, Ryan, and Marley? Find local volunteer opportunities.