Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard, Keith Bogans and J.J. Redick Visit Children at Disney’s Children’s Hospital at Florida Hospital

J.J. Redick signs a cast for a little boy during their visit.

ORLANDO, Fla.- Eleven-year-old Jamal Mills wasn’t too excited to learn that his 14-day stay at Disney’s Children’s Hospital at Florida Hospital would most likely include Christmas Day.

Mills, who is battling cystic fibrosis, had come down with a case of pneumonia. He was tired and slouched in a wheelchair when Howard stepped off the elevator onto the sixth floor.

Upon hearing Howard’s voice, the fifth grader was suddenly filled with excitement and nearly leaped out of his chair.

“What’s up big homie?” was Howard’s greeting to Mills, who was one of numerous children awaiting the Olympian’s arrival.

In an instant, Jamal’s mood was exponentially elevated. Any hint of discomfort was wiped away by his gleaming smile.

“It was so cool, it was awesome,” said an ecstatic Mills of meeting Howard, who donned a blue Santa hat and had even “borrowed” a stethoscope from a doctor on the elevator ride up to the children’s floor. “Dwight is my favorite player and I watch the Magic on TV at night.”

The 4-foot-1-inch fifth grader proceeded to lead the 6-foot-11-inch Howard around to meet the other children on the floor, who became visibly elated as the Magic’s All-Star center took time to pass out gifts and sign autographs for all who requested.

“It’s just a blessing,” said Jamal’s mother, Tonya Willis. “I’m just glad the players had time to come out and give the kids some love.”

Howard, along with teammates Keith Bogans and J.J. Redick, spent their afternoon visiting children at the hospital.

“Whenever I get a chance to do something like this, I run to it,” said Howard. “It means more to me than anything to see the kids smile, and touch their life.”

About The Orlando Magic

Orlando’s NBA franchise since 1989, the Magic’s mission is to be world champions on and off the court, delivering legendary moments every step of the way. On the court, Orlando has won three division championships (1995, 1996, 2008), had four 50-plus win seasons, and won the Eastern Conference title in 1995. Off the court, on an annual basis the Orlando Magic gives more than $2 million to the local community by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise, scholarships and grants. Orlando Magic community relations programs impact an estimated 75,000 kids each year, while a Magic staff-wide initiative provides more than 5,000 volunteer hours annually. In addition, over the last 19 years nearly $14 million has been distributed to local non-profit community organizations via The Orlando Magic Youth Fund (OMYF), a fund of the McCormick Foundation since 1994, which serves at risk and disadvantaged youth. Ticket highlights for 2008-09 include: 7,569 seats priced $25 or under per game; a $27 lower bowl ticket; and tickets priced at $10 per game. For ticket information log on to orlandomagic.com or call 407-89-MAGIC.

Through the National Basketball Association’s NBA CARES program, the league, players and teams will raise and contribute $100 million for charity, donate more than 1 million hours of hands-on volunteer service to communities worldwide, and build more than 100 places where kids can learn and play over the next five years.

The Orlando Magic is also the developer of the new downtown Events Center which will compete to host major national events, concerts and family shows. Opening in the fall of 2010, the facility will be operated by the City of Orlando and owned by the Central Florida Community.

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