Community Relations Coordinator, Latria Leak is entering her sixth season with the Orlando Magic. Drafted from the University of Florida in the Magic’s Human Resources first round, Leak joins the virtual world with a unique, vibrant personality guaranteed to get you fired up, bring out your emotions or simply have you begging for mercy (you’ll see in future posts)! The Community Leak will provide a specific focus on the Magic’s community initiatives giving fans an exclusive, inside scoop on Magic staff, players and their foundations, and coaches volunteer efforts in the community. Sit back, relax, and prepare for legendary as Latria takes you outside the perimeter, off the court and into the community.
Calling All Fans to Support Our Troops
By Darius Love
October 26, 2012
What would you do with 10,000 pounds of candy? Would you fill your bath tub with Skittles galore? Or maybe build a life-size model of the Eiffel Tower from Kit Kats…warning don’t break anyone off a piece of that Kit Kat bar! Better yet, maybe you would dine in more; scrambled M&M’s for breakfast, a Hershey and Butterfinger sandwich for lunch, and candy casserole for dinner! In spite of these “sweet” options, Andrew Weinstock, a junior at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park, has dedicated his time and candy to Operation Gratitude.
Operation Gratitude is a non-profit organization based in California that strives to lift morale and put smiles on faces by sending care packages to soldiers deployed in various combat zones around the world. Since the organization was established in 2003, Operation Gratitude has impacted over 815,000 military members worldwide. Working with Operation Gratitude Orlando for the past three years, Andrew has been able to collect 10, 000 pounds of candy from the community. Andrew’s efforts have been instrumental in helping the Operation to provide delectable content for the care packages. Although those mini Snickers may seem like taste bud teasers to you and me, they inspire genuine appreciation from military members abroad. Let’s just say that Willy Wonka would be immensely proud of the work that Andrew and Operation Gratitude have done to provide our military members with a mouth-watering mountain of motivation.
So you may ask, “What can I do to get involved?” There will be Operation Gratitude candy collection stations on October 29 at the Magic Open Practice as well as Fan-Fest opening night on November 4. We encourage everyone to bring candy to donate for the Operation Gratitude cause to these events. Let’s bring the real almond joy to our troops!
Support our Troops. We Will.
For more information on Operation Gratitude visit http://www.operationgratitude.com/about-us/about-operation-gratitude/.
Follow us on twitter @CommunityLeak or e-mail us at CommunityLeak@orlandomagic.com
September 10, 2012
A Nugget a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!
Have you ever stopped to think about the hectic lifestyle of today’s 10-year old? The day-to-day life of the modern fourth grader is filled with soccer games, dentist appointments, and the occasional afternoon nap. With all of these activities in mind it’s hard to ensure that these little CEOs receive a hearty and nutritious meal. Thanks to Chick-fil-A, the Orlando Magic, and Florida Hospital, parents and their children can now enjoy the heartiness of a healthy on-the-go meal without sacrificing convenience.
Chick-fil-A launched its new grilled chicken nuggets on Monday in Maitland and received the Healthy 100 campaign stamp of approval by Florida Hospital as well the Magic. All three organizations have partnered together to raise awareness on the issue of health and nutrition in our communities. This move towards healthier eating options comes not a nugget too late as Florida Hospital reports that one in three children in Orange County are diagnosed as overweight or obese. This is an especially important endeavor for the Magic as youth health and wellness is one of its three community focus areas. Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw were joined by Magic mascot, Stuff, Magic dancers, and the Chick-fil-A cow to deliver the grilled nuggets with a side of FUN to some very happy customers.
Linda Landman Gonzalez, vice president of community relations and government affairs for the Magic shared her supportive sentiments on the new grilled chicken health initiative. As a mother of two grown daughters, Gonzalez knows all about managing busy schedules and the task of trying to find healthy dining options for little ones. Finally, the search is over for all the parents out there who lead an on-the-go lifestyle. When the going gets rough and finding a suitable dining option seems tough, we can grab the Chick-fil-A grilled chicken nuggets because they’re full of healthy stuff!
So now, the little CEOs of the world can eat a healthy and nutritious meal as they journey to their four o’clock play date!
Follow us on twitter @CommunityLeak or e-mail us at CommunityLeak@orlandomagic.com
July 19, 2012
Painting for a Good Cause
Community Day/Project at the BETA Center:
Volunteering can be very rewarding, and the Orlando Magic is always willing to lend a helping hand. This past June, the Orlando Magic Volunteer Program (MVP) offered its time and resources once again, teaming up with MetroPCS to paint the BETA Center's Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten room and clean its multi-purpose room.
J.T. McWalters from The Orlando Magic and Chandra Waters from MetroPCS chose the BETA Center as a project because of what the organization does for our community. BETA provides children and parents the knowledge, skills and support needed to build strong and healthy families with a special focus on at-risk families.
“For decades our partnership with the Orlando Magic and the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation has been vital to our success,” said Xiomara Matos, Volunteer Manager at BETA. “To the Magic executives, managers and staff, we say thank you for helping us to serve our community’s children, youth and parents.”
The Orlando Magic MVP team believes in our community and will continue to support great organizations like BETA.
Follow us on twitter @CommunityLeak or e-mail us at CommunityLeak@orlandomagic.com
April 17, 2012
The Player Ticket Program Goes Courtside!
Have you ever had an opportunity to sit courtside as kid? It is one of the biggest dreams a child could ever have…fortunately, a dream that comes true often thanks to the Magic’s Player Ticket Program. Each season, players and coaches purchase and donate tickets to underprivileged youth in Central Florida. Last week, local youth groups had the opportunity to watch pregame warm-ups sitting courtside.
One of those groups was Easter Seals. Easter Seals is a local non-profit that helps individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives. Magic Guard J.J. Redick not only purchased tickets to the game for this group, but provided the children with Magic T-shirts, food vouchers and bus transportation to the game. Billy, a young boy from the Easter Seals group, had his dream come true, sitting courtside at an NBA game. Magic players Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis made his day when they took photos with him. You could see the excitement all over his face. His smile was as wide as the Grand Canyon is deep. While the “Courtside Kids” enjoyed pregame warm-ups, they all had the opportunity to take photos, interact with Magic Dancers along with community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw. One girl even challenged Bo to a dance-off during a Lady Gaga song. Let’s just say, Lady Gaga isn’t Bo’s favorite artist anymore.
Thank you to J.J. Redick, Glen Davis, Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Quentin Richardson, Jameer Nelson, and Coach Stan Van Gundy for granting these kids an unbelievable opportunity! When it comes to our community, every day is game day!
CLICK HERE to see photos of Courtside Kids and don’t forget to follow us on twitter @CommunityLeak .
Jan. 30, 2012
Dr. Martin Luther King inspires youth in Central Florida
Dr. Martin Luther King believed that a person’s worth is not measured by color, culture or class. But rather, by his or her commitment to making life better for all.
The Orlando MLK Commission selected 59 children from Orange County Public Schools for the Youth Humanitarian Award. Each middle and high school student received three game tickets and on-court recognition during halftime at Tuesday January 17th game. The award acknowledged an exceptional student who represents the ideals modeled by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which are equality, justice, freedom, peace, and harmony for all.
The Commission is a volunteer organization, which includes business and community representatives appointed by the Mayor to raise funds and coordinate city-wide events that promote the celebration of Dr. King’s legacy of equality, justice, freedom, peace and harmony for all races and cultures in greater Orlando.
Honor Dr. King and make today a day on, not a day off. Volunteer and give back to your community. Together we can make a difference. .
Oct. 31, 2011
While one of the Orlando Magic’s primary goals is to be a champion in the Central Florida community, the team is also a pioneer when it comes to expanding its reach on a global scale. From Patrick Ewing and Bo Outlaw’s voyage to Africa to the Magic Dancers’ recent trip to the Philippines, the team has sought to share the excitement of Magic basketball with its fans far beyond its Floridian borders. Luckily, I’ve been able to contribute to these initiatives, having hosted Magic Youth Basketball programs in Europe and the Caribbean over the last few years. However, never did I think I would be able to do so halfway around the world.
Earlier this month, I had the privilege of conducting a series of basketball camps and clinics in India. From Bangalore to New Delhi, fellow coach Donnie Arey and I ran 21 sessions in just over one week! Each time, we taught local youth some of the very same skills and drills that their American counterparts use (including many used by their favorite NBA players) and like a sponge, they soaked up everything being taught to them. Realizing that they were presented with such a rare opportunity, the effort, hustle and enthusiasm they displayed was as impressive as I had ever seen on a basketball court. And, it was a pleasure to see several do so while adorned in Magic gear!
As for the country itself, I left most impressed by the kindness of its people and the majestic monuments we were able to visit. As for the food, though our appetites were tested, we braved unfamiliar delicacies to enjoy new cuisines we would never have otherwise (though not to say we didn’t frequent a fast food joint or two!). But overall, it was being able to teach a game we love so dearly to those who were so eager to learn that made everything so worthwhile.
I would like to thank all of our new friends and our gracious hosts – especially Faisal Qureshi of PGM Sports – for their warmth and hospitality. We hope we can do it again soon. Until then…JAI HO MAGIC! (Which in Hindi of course means, GO MAGIC!)
To view photos, CLICK HERE or follow Orlando Magic Youth Basketball on Facebook .
Oct. 24, 2011
Is everybody wearing pink? But what about gray?
Everyone’s talking about breast cancer awareness this month. It’s a worthy cause which has gained a wealth of support. NFL players are styling the pink gloves and the pink bracelets are everywhere! A surprise to many, October is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Congress created NDEAM to enlighten Americans about issues related to disabilities and employment. According to DisabledWorld.com, the awareness bracelet color to support causes for disabled children is gray. So while we’re styling our pink, the Magic has been all about the gray too! In partnership with the Central Florida Disability Chamber (CFDC), the Magic hosted “Disability Mentoring Day” last Wednesday at Amway Center. About 20 students from Timber Creek High School were given a VIP tour of the Amway Center. The students are a part of the CFDC Youth Entrepreneurship Program where they are taught business skills for both self employment and the job market, how to pursue higher education, and develop life management skills.
After the tour, the students sat in on a career panel to learn about the many career options available in sports as well as business skills needed to run a sports franchise. Orlando Magic panelists, Casey Cole (Corporate Partners), Matt Keller (Marketing), Adly Santiago (Communications) and I (Community Relations) answered many questions about “Careers in Sports.”
The experience was very rewarding and impactful. As we walked the students back to their bus, a young girl asked me a question.
“How were your grades in school?” she said.
I replied, “Very good. I was in the National Honor Society with a 3.83 G.P.A.”
She replied, “That’s good. I’ve got to get my grades up. I’m not doing so well but after listening to you all today I’m going to work on it.”
Magic fans, let’s bring the gray out of your closet in support of Disability Awareness Month!
To see photos from the event, click here. For more information on CFDC’s Entrepreneurs Ed Program, visit http://cfdisabilitychamber.org/ Follow us on twitter @CommunityLeak. E-mail us at CommunityLeak@orlandomagic.com
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS>>>
Oct. 18, 2011
Bo Goes to Africa
Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw has always gone above and beyond when it comes to giving back to others. Our community motto is “When it comes to the community, everyday is game day.” For Bo, the motto is a reality as he always comes suited up and ready to play. This year Bo was selected to participate in the NBA’s Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa 2011. BWB Africa was hosted by the King Edward VII School in Johannesburg. Through NBA Cares, the NBA legends and coaches also participated in extensive community outreach efforts highlighted by the creation of places for children and families to live, learn or play including new technology centers, libraries and basketball courts. After being away from the United States for almost a week, Bo took time out to tell us some behind the scenes details about his trip.
Tell us about your trip to Africa.
My first stop was in Congo. We spent the majority of our time walking the streets at midnight to grab food. My body hadn’t adjusted to the time change so we were up all night. We visited the embassy where we met and had dinner with the ambassador. The coolest part was riding in a bullet proof suburban. I participated in basketball camps for most of the week. The participants ranged from six to 25 years old. There was a 14 year old there that was taller than me. It was amazing.
What was your interaction like with the children?
We take so much for granted here in the United States. A lot of the kids play basketball on bent rims. One of the local community leaders set up events for us throughout the trip. One day we went to the orphanage to help with a water distribution. We helped paint and played with the kids. A lot of the kids’ parents died of AIDS and were abandoned. Despite their situation, they appreciated everything. We were giving out water where each kid had their own cup. They were trying to share but we told them that they would each have their own.
Was there anything interesting you learned about the culture there?
The waste management process is very different from ours. They disposed of trash by placing waste in a tub and burning it outdoors. So throughout the town you would see small fires everywhere. I also played a lot of soccer while I was there. Of course, I was the worst, but the interaction with the kids was important to me.
What did you think about joining in efforts with Dikembe Mutumbo and all the work he’s done there?
Dikembe Mutombo is a native of the Dominican Republic of Congo and a lot of people don’t know how much he’s done in Africa. He’s currently the global ambassador for the NBA and does so much for his country. He helped fund hospitals there as well as provide thousands of medical supplies and medicine to the people.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We visited the Apartheid museum in the suburbs of Johannesburg. I’d like to share these quotes from Nelson Mandela that really made an impact on me.
Respect – “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that enhances and respects the freedoms of others.”
Courage – “I learnt that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear.”
Forgiveness – “Deep down in every human’s heart there is mercy and generosity.”
Sept. 22, 2011
Can You Walk the Walk?
By Robyn Guokas
Participating in the American Heart Association Heart Walk is something that has become near and dear to…well, my heart. With family history of heart related illness, it is a personal goal to get involved, help raise awareness and support the cause. The Greater Orlando Heart Walk kicks off in September in Loch Haven Park with over 16,000 participants walking to support heart health. Nationally this initiative has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to go towards research and treatment to reverse the trend for heart attacks and stroke.
Some experts predict today’s children are not expected to live as long as their parents. This marks the first time ever for an entire generation’s life expectancy to drop. According to the American Heart Association, less than 1% of the population meets the AHA criteria for ideal cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans. With statistics like that, there’s only one thing left to do - step up and get involved.
Start by asking yourself, “What can I do today to promote heart health?” Consider the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Talk a walk or ride your bike down the street instead of driving. Walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes instead of “vegging out” on the couch after work. Physical activity is just one step you can take to make a difference. To find out more about the American Heart Association and Heart Walk, visit www.heartwalk.org.
Aug. 31, 2011
It’s going to be a Great School Year!!
By Deborah Rios-Barnes
As temperatures surpass the 90s it’s hard to imagine that the summer school break is over. Even though it’s technically still summertime, kids are back in school and off to a great start. Thanks to the generosity of great corporate partners such as Florida Hospital, MetroPCS and UnitedHealthcare, more than 1,500 children received school supplies and backpacks prior to starting the school year.
Unfortunately, the number of children that are on either free or reduced lunch has risen from previous years due to our failing economy. However, it brings me great joy to see our partners come together to meet such an incredible need. I am most thankful for the wonderful employees that I have the pleasure of working with everyday, who came together to stuff backpacks and volunteer their time to ensure that children are academically ready.
If you want information on where you can donate school supplies throughout the school year, please contact “A Gift for Teaching” or visit http://agiftforteaching.org/.
Aug. 16, 2011
The Team behind the Team Edition: Linda Landman Gonzalez
We hear a lot about how reading can have a profound effect on our lives. In fact, we hear it a lot at our community relations staff meetings by a special person who’s a huge advocate for children and minorities in Central Florida. Listening to her is equivalent to sitting in a college history course at a prestigious university. Linda Landman Gonzalez is the Magic’s vice president of community relations and government affairs. At the age of 17, Linda left New York to pursue higher education at The Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico. She worked as a history teacher for ten years in Mexico City and then was hired by Barnett Bank where she implemented their first diversity initiatives to reach the Hispanic market. As a result of her efforts, Barnett became the first bank to translate ATM machines. Linda then went on to Darden to create their diversity program that stretched across six cities. Today, she’s a four-year Magic executive and has been instrumental in the creation of our multicultural insights department to enhance relationships with diverse communities around Central Florida. We sat down with Linda to get the “Leak” on interesting and fun facts about her you won’t find anywhere else! Also, find out what’s on Linda’s iPod… Kanye West? Be entertained!
What or who motivates you?
Information. I love to know things. The where’s, when’s, and why’s are intriguing to me. I love to know it and be able to share it with others.
I know this is a tough question for you, what community organizations have the most impact on you personally?
I really like the Boys and Girls Club and the work they do with Central Florida children. They have such a grassroots approach to investing in children’s lives. Whether it’s teaching children how to sing, play an instrument, swim or read, they truly make a positive impact. I also admire the nuns in Apopka at the Hope Community Center. The Center helps meet the needs of the ever-growing number of farm workers and immigrant families residing in Central Florida. It’s truly a home that brings together diverse people and cultures working for peace in the community and the world.
Where do you see yourself five to ten years from now?
On a beach selling tortas (laughing hysterically).
It seems you’ve accomplished a lot professionally, is there a goal you’re still trying to achieve?
Yes, there are several. I’d like to see the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation become a foundation that is self-sustaining. The impact the foundation has had in the past few years has grown dramatically. I’d like to have an NBA championship ring. I’d like the Orlando Magic to become the most valued corporate entity in the community. Finally, spend more time with my grandchildren. I miss them quite often.
Tell us about your work with Oscar winning actress Halle Berry.
I met her through my involvement with the Jenessee Center in South Los Angeles. Jenessee provides comprehensive support to victims of domestic violence. We were involved in a few of their fundraisers and events together. She and I were both Silver Rose recipients. She was absolutely committed to the organization and always supported their events by attending them so that she could be “their Celebrity”. She is lovely and humble and filled with warmth and happiness.
Now to the fun stuff…What does the name Kanye West mean to you?
I have some of his music on my iPod. I like music and lyrics that touch me and make me move. Eminem did that too with his early music. Kanye is a very talented visionary who really was able to express himself. Although sometimes controversial, there are pitfalls to celebrities and stardom and he didn’t understand his responsibility. I also like Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Marvin Gaye (I’m a child of the 60s and 70s), Black Eyed Peas and Las Ketchup. Las Ketchup produces Spanish music of a romantic genre and Hispanic rock-n-roll.
What are two words that mean the most to you?
Love. It’s all about love at the end of the day. You can’t love if you haven’t been loved. Another is listen. You should open yourself to everything. Don’t be close-minded.
What’s your favorite food?
I like Italian and Mexican food. I love food. That’s my problem (laughing).
Fill in the blank. Orlando is…
CLICK HERE to see photos of Linda in action. Follow us on twitter @CommunityLeak or e-mail us at email@example.com
Aug. 8, 2011
Are you an MVP?
The Orlando Magic staff is dedicated to being world champions on and off the court and continues to create legendary moments to those in need. Through the Magic Volunteer Program (MVP), Magic staff, players, and coaches completed over 7,700 community service hours helping families and children in Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties! According to the Independent Sector which measures volunteer time, this equates to over $166,000 given back to the local community. Over the past five seasons, the Magic has invested volunteer time valued at over $600,000 to the Central Florida Community.
Magic volunteers assisted a number of non-profit organizations this past season including Nap Ford Community School, Habitat for Humanity, Center for Independent Living, Harbor House of Central Florida, Ronald McDonald House and serving over 600 meals to men, women and children at the Coalition for the Homeless on Thanksgiving. Have you volunteered lately? We want to celebrate your commitment to the community by highlighting you on our website! All you have to do is e-mail a picture of yourself volunteering with a non-profit organization to CommunityLeak@orlandomagic.com. So come on MVPs, let’s get those pictures in!!
Follow us on twitter @CommunityLeak.
July 28, 2011
Psst…Free Meals All Summer Long…Pass it on!
By Robyn Guokas, CR Staff
Just because school’s out for the summer doesn’t mean free meals are taking a vacation.
The Orlando Magic, in partnership with Florida Hospital and the Florida Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, are spreading the word that FREE, (yes, FREE) nutritious meals are available for children all summer long.
Nationwide, 19.5 million children receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year, but during the summer months, only 2.2 million children participate in the Summer Break Spot (formerly known as the Summer Food Service Program). Locally, only one in seven children take advantage of this program simply because they don’t know it exists.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed.
For more information about the Summer Break Spot or to find a site near you visit summerfoodflorida.org or call 2-1-1. Pass it on!
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June 22, 2011
Summertime brings happiness to many of our staff members (Whoo hoo, summer hours!), but to others it means an incredible experience is coming to an end. At the end of this month, our season interns will venture out into the world of sports to begin their careers as full-time employees or continue their academic endeavors. Orlando Magic Intern, Rob Agusta, joined the community relations team this past November to run our donations and player ticket program. Rob also helped facilitate our Blessings in a Backpack program in which he wishes to tell you all about! “Rob”servation…Take one…..
As a basketball team manager, I filled up hundreds of water bottles during my four years at Stetson University. Although I know this effort greatly contributed to our stellar on-court performance (slight exaggeration), it still does not compare to the satisfaction of filling backpacks for children who need it the most. Blessings in a Backpack provides children from Lake Como and Kaley Elementary with food to take home every weekend. Packing day is always a blast! Every week Magic staff volunteers enter a room with mountains of apple sauce, oatmeal, juice, and more ramen noodles than there are on a college campus! It is a very intimidating sight, but we work like a well-oiled machine, and with the help of dedicated school staff, and some terrific student volunteers, the backpacks are filled and sorted less than an hour later. The children and staff always bring an energy and playfulness to packing that is inspiring. It is sad to see the program finish with the school year, however, it is rewarding to know that a little time out of my day made a big difference in some children’s lives . Follow us on twitter @CommunityLeak or email us at CommunityLeak@orlandomagic.com
For information on “Summer Break Spots’ a summer nutrition program for kids & teens, visit www.summerfoodflorida.org or call 211.
May 2, 2011
18th Annual Hispanic Business and Consumer Expo
The Orlando Magic served as Gold Sponsors of the 18th Annual Hispanic Business and Consumer Expo this past weekend! Orlando Magic Team President Alex Martins was named honorary chair of the event and was a featured speaker at the Expo Luncheon on Friday. Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw and the Magic Dancers signed autographs and took photos throughout the weekend. Exhibit attendees received EL Magic business card holders and stickers including ticket sales and Orlando Magic Basketball Camp information. With more than 30,000 attendees in the past two years, the Hispanic Business & Consumer Expo is recognized as the largest business expo targeting the Hispanic market in the nation.