Orlando Magic Youth Foundation raises $165K at golf tournament
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Playing under a cloudless sky, in humidity-free temperatures and a Chamber of Commerce sort of sunshine, approximately 200 golfers hit the links at Disney on Thursday, Oct. 16 with two things in mind: raising money for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF) and making birdies.
It's rare for golfers to put anything ahead of thrill that comes with holing a chip shot or drilling a long putt for birdie, but that was the case on Thursday as golfers invested in an OMYF program that has built quite a tradition of investing in at-risk youth of Central Florida.
The 24th annual OMYF Open presented by Chase, raised $165,000 on Thursday -- money that will be used in a few months when the Magic distribute money to more than 20 nonprofit organizations across the area. Over the last quarter century, OMYF, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF) has given in excess of $19 million to organizations that better the lives of underserved children and make Central Florida a better place to live. And, as Magic CEO Alex Martins stressed, OMYF wouldn't have been able to affect the lives of millions of children in the area without the belief and support of many of the fans and sponsors who played golf on Thursday at Disney's Palm and Magnolia courses.
"We're incredibly grateful of the support that our sponsors and fans give to the events of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation. They're the folks that have helped us raise up to $1 million dollars the last few years to distribute out to at-risk and underprivileged children in Central Florida," said Martins, who played in a foursome along with representatives from Chase on Thursday.
"There are a lot of kids in Central Florida who need our help, whether it's homelessness, youth education programs, obesity prevention, or domestic violence issues. We have some issues that need assistance," Martins continued. "What we do is just a small part to help it. Our distribution of $1 million every year isn't going to solve the problems in society, and we need a lot of people in our community to help these kids improve their lives and get them ready for a better future. Hopefully we are making a dent in the problems with programs like this."
Each year, the Magic give more than $2 million to Central Florida by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise and grants. At the heart of the Magic's charitable efforts is the work done by the OMYF. The foundation raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions, 50/50 raffles and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Open Golf Tournament.
The OMYF has partnered with the McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF) since 1994. The McCormick Foundation matches all donations to the Fund at 50 cents on the dollar. In 2014, the OMYF-MFF distributed more than $500K to 25 grantee organizations in celebration of the team's 25th anniversary.
"We've affected millions of lives, from children to families and our school system with what we've been able to do with OMYF," said Magic Vice President of Philanthropy and Multicultural Insights Linda Landman Gonzalez, "We invest in our education and nutritional systems and we're fighting the homeless problem in our community. We really feel that we need to be a good partner of the community and we've tried to do that with how we've invested in the area."
In addition to being excited about raising money for OMYF and getting to play golf in gorgeous conditions on Thursday, Martins was delighted with the progress that the Magic have in building a young and hungry roster that is hoping to make significant strides this season.
"Fans seem like they have a little bit more of a jump in their step, and they should. This is a year, as I have said before, where we hope to turn the corner a little bit," Martins said with confidence. "We're seeing that in the preseason with better defense and better athleticism, but it's the preseason and we're not going to get overly excited until we start playing games for real. But I will tell you that the guys are working really hard, we've had a great training camp and two of our starters in Victor (Oladipo) and Channing (Frye) haven't played yet. I think there's a lot of enthusiasm for a fun season and we'll have to see what the results bear out."
Magic GM Rob Hennigan and Head Coach Jacque Vaughn both addressed the golfers and sponsors on hand Thursday and thanked them for their support of the OMYF. Hennigan, who has spent the past two seasons remaking the roster, said he likes what he sees from a young and hungry roster and he feels that the Orlando organization will put a team on the floor that Magic fans will be proud of this season.
"The last couple of years have been a difficult process, but at the same time a rewarding process because we've been able to turn over the roster and plant seeds that we think can ultimately lead to long-term success," Hennigan said. "The first couple of years were filled with house cleaning and seeing a lot of guys coming and going. Now, half the roster is new faces, and that's for a reason. We've tried to put together a group that has the talent, character and resolve to start to grow. This year is about that growth. Now, we feel like we have some players in place that will allow us to grow. We're going to be fun to watch and we're excited about our growth."