Denton: Magic Hosted Third Annual Back to School Celebration
By John Denton
August 7, 2013
ORLANDO – Breana Riviere is mature well beyond her 13 years of age, so much so that she fully understood that while Wednesday’s Back to School event was mostly centered around fun and games, there was a much greater purpose in the works.
When the Orlando Magic hosted the Back to School event to benefit the Parramore Kidz Zone on Wednesday, it allowed more than 200 elementary and middle school students to play video games, compete at laser tag, have their faces painted and receive balloon animals.
Most importantly, the Magic teamed with Dixon Ticonderoga and Amway to provide backpacks filled with school supplies to help prepare the students for the upcoming school year. In all, more than 2,100 backpacks filled with pencils, paper, hygiene products and other supplies will be distributed to students enrolled at City of Orlando community centers and Orange County community gyms thanks to the Magic and their sponsorship partners.
Giving the new backpacks and school supplies, Riviere wisely said, will prove to be the most beneficial aspect of the day to families in need because of the difficult economic times.
``The event I like best is the basketball shooting because I love the sport and I love the Orlando Magic. But for the Magic to come out here today and help the kids that are in need, it’s just a great opportunity for everybody,’’ said Rivere, a student at Howard Middle School in Orlando. ``They are giving kids opportunities that will help them do well in school. Some of the other kids here would like the opportunity to have a new backpack to take to school, but they just don’t have that opportunity. This is a great chance for them to get something nice and start off school the right way.’’
Magic Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Charlie Freeman was joined by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Commissioner Daisy Lynum and Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw in giving out the backpacks to children on Wednesday. Magic CEO Alex Martins said the event reaffirms the franchise’s commitment to the people of Central Florida and making the community a better place to live.
``The Magic believe in the power of education and understands the importance of providing students with the resources necessary to be successful in school,’’ Martins said. ``We hope this event gets the youth from PKZ excited and ready for the upcoming school year.’’
Freeman said that the Magic are determined to be champions on the court and in the community. That’s why the organization has put such an emphasis on making a difference among the citizens most in need.
“It’s part of our mission with the Orlando Magic to give back and help the people of the Central Florida community. Really, it’s an honor for us,’’ Freeman said. “Whenever you can affect the lives of the youth it’s nice, but especially here in Parramore it’s extra special. We built the Amway Center in Parramore and to continue to make an impact in this area is rewarding. We’re ecstatic that we can be a small part of what’s being done here to help.”
Parramore is Orlando’s most impoverished area with approximately 73 percent of the children there living at or below the poverty line. The Magic have made a social and financial commitment to helping those in the Parramore area by hosting several events in the community to try and impact the lives of the children there. Lynum, a Commissioner for District 5 for 15 years, said the Magic have been a huge help in making a difference in Parramore.
``The Magic have helped us so many years that it doesn’t seem like a phenomenon; it’s just something that they always do because they are such great partners of ours,’’ Lynum said. ``It’s a culture of who you are and how you interact with the community. This is our team. Everything we need to do, the Magic are at the front of helping. It’s almost expected because they just continue to give.’’
Orlando’s Tanvia Jones had her son, Tanorris Banks, at Wednesday’s event and she looked on with joy as he bounced from station to station playing games and having fun. Jones, who recently endured a battle with breast cancer, said that if not for the backpack gift on Wednesday that her son might have had to do without this year at school.
``This is a blessing and we’re grateful because this is my son’s first year being able to participate in something like this,’’ Jones said. ``If we didn’t get this (backpack), my son just wouldn’t have any school supplies. I mean, he would have the basics, but not like the nice stuff that they are giving away. So this is just a blessing for us.’’
Phillip Gordon, a counselor at the Callahan Center, is one of the many success stories from the Parramore Kidz Zone as he recently graduated from UCF with a degree in criminal justice. He is hoping to someday become a police officer in Orlando so that he can help out kids the way he was aided during his childhood. He said the support provided by the Magic to the PKZ had a profound effect on his life.
``In this community, the kids here aren’t prone to having much, so events like this allow them play games and play laser tag. A lot of times, places like the Callahan Center are the only places that they can go,’’ Gordon said. ``The Magic are way more than just a team. Years ago when they helped build the Teen Shack it was amazing because it gave the teens an opportunity for success. They helped me get to college. So everything that the Magic do for us is awesome.’’
Riviere, the tall and well-spoken teenager from Orlando, got up a few shots on the inflatable basketball hoops, enjoyed several games of laser tag and dabbled in some video games on Wednesday. But she said the aspect that will be the most lasting from the Back to School event will be the gift of the supply-filled backpack and the tremendous generosity of the Magic.
``They care about Orlando, and if they didn’t they wouldn’t help people the way that they do,’’ Riviere said eloquently. ``They’ve shown several times that they love us and they care about us. That means so much to these kids out here.’’
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