OMYF Open Raises Funds for the Central Florida Community

By John Denton
October 24, 2013

ORLANDO -- From his tee box vantage point at the Villas at Grand Cypress on Thursday Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins peered across lush fairways, saw dozens of basketball fans enjoying a round of golf and he couldn’t help but smile.

It warmed Martins’ heart to know that so many Magic fans and corporate partners were in attendance to support one of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation’s biggest fundraisers of the season.

Including a McCormick Foundation match of 50 cents on every dollar raised, the 23rd annual OMYF Open presented by Chase generated a whopping $180,000 on Thursday – money that will be used by the Magic to further their efforts in making a difference in the Central Florida community. Over the 23-year history of the OMYF, the Magic’s foundation, has distributed more than $18 million to local nonprofit organizations.

None of it would be possible, Martins said, without the overwhelming support of Magic fans, corporate sponsors and community partners. Many of them were joyously hacking their way around Grand Cypress on Thursday, much to the delight of Martins.

“We had such a great turnout this year. We sold out and we actually had to turn some people away. So it was great support,” Martins said. “We had a great field and a lot of our Magic sponsors, Magic fans and supporters of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation as well. …It was just a great day to raise a lot of money for the kids in Central Florida. We really appreciate all of the people who came out.”

In addition to the round of golf and various raffles, the OMYF supporters were treated to “State of the Magic” speeches from GM Rob Hennigan and Head Coach Jacque Vaughn. The coach praised the work that many of the team’s young players put in over the summer, and promised that the offseason commitment would prove evident over the coming season.

The Magic play the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night in the final preseason game and they open the regular season on the road in Indiana on Tuesday and in Minnesota on Wednesday night. The home opener at the Amway Center is next Friday against the Pelicans.

Hennigan, who pulled off two transformational trades and drafted prized rookie Victor Oladipo last season, promised that the Magic are building the kind of solid foundation to the team that fans will be proud of for years to come.

“A lot of this coming year will be about continuing to grow and continuing to put our guys in positions to learn how to play in the NBA, to learn how to compete and learn how to win,” Hennigan said. “That’s a process that is not easy. The human tendency is to try to get through that phase as quickly as you can, but we’re not trying to do that.

“We’re trying to build this thing organically and build it the right way,” Hennigan said. “We’re going to always look for ways to better our team, but we’re always going to be principled in everything that we do. That’s what we believe will get us to where we want to go and that’s to being an elite team. We’re not going to skip any steps in doing that.”

Basketball fans in Central Florida clearly believe in Hennigan’s plan as evidenced by the Magic having greater attendance than six teams that made the playoffs last season. And they believe in the missions of the OMYF and the push to make a difference in the community. The OMYF Open and the Black Tie and Tennies Gala have been the foundation’s biggest money-raisers for years, and it is only possible by the continued support of those fans and corporate partners in Central Florida, said Linda Landman Gonzalez, the Magic’s vice president of philanthropy and multicultural insights.

“We have golfers who have been golfing with us for 18 years. It’s become one of those events where the golfers not only have a great time, but they know they are really giving back,” Landman Gonzalez said. “We have two courses and we’re completely sold out. Our sponsors, like Chase, come back year after year and make big investments in what we believe in, and that’s giving back.

“(Giving back to the community) is who we are and it’s a part of our culture,’’ Landman Gonzalez added. “From (owner) Mr. (Rich) DeVos all the way down to our part-time and seasonal employees, they all give up their time and treasure to make this community a better place.”