Arron Afflalo Gives the Assist to Two Local Organizations with $50K Donation

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO – When he took the stage at the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation’s (OMYF) Black Tie and Tennies Gala last month after being named the winner of the 2017-18 Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award, a grateful Arron Afflalo emphasized the word “proud” during his acceptance speech.

Afflalo, who decided to return to the Magic as a free agent last summer for his second stint with the team partially because of his admiration for the Central Florida community, talked about how proud he is to be a part of an organization that cares so deeply about helping children and families succeed.

Sharing his passion for community service with other organizations that feel the same way also makes Afflalo proud and brings him incredible joy. He has seen first-hand how favorable it is for a community when people from different walks of life unite with that same approach.

When learning that a $50,000 grant to donate to a charity (or charities) of his choice was part of his reward, Afflalo was ecstatic knowing he would be able to join forces with organizations that are just as philanthropic as he is.

Two charities in particular, the Central Florida Concerns of Police Survivors and the U.S. Dream Academy, are dear to Afflalo’s heart, which led to Wednesday’s announcement during Fan Appreciation Night that these organizations would each receive $25,000 from the 11-year NBA veteran.

“There’s a lot of history, a lot of pride in what they do,” Afflalo said. “Protecting our community, being first responders and protecting our kids and being first responders to the development of their mind. Those two things are very dear to me.”

Central Florida Concerns of Police Survivors assists in rebuilding the shattered lives of the family members left behind by law enforcement officers who have died or were killed in the line of duty. Survivors attend grief counseling sessions and meaningful remembrance ceremonies in honor of their heroes. Central Florida C.O.P.S. support these survivors as they walk the road of hope.

Christina Raslowsky, who first joined the Central Florida Concerns of Police Survivors in 2006 after her brother died in the line of duty and is now the organization’s vice president, says Afflalo’s contributions will help in a variety of ways including giving surviving family members the opportunity to honor their loved ones by sending them to state and national memorials.

“We were just floored,” Raslowsky said when she and her organization first found out about Afflalo’s generosity. “How exciting it was that we were even considered. It was elation, amazing.”

“Our organization has come a long way,” she added. “Luckily, we have people that love what we stand for and what we do and they have been supportive of us. People in our community have wrapped their arms and embraced us and because of that we’ve been able to do great things. We are so thankful and grateful for that.”

Through academic, social and values enrichment, the U.S. Dream Academy empowers those children most at risk of incarceration to believe in themselves and to succeed. With an innovative afterschool and mentoring program, currently operating in seven cities nationwide (including Orlando), the U.S. Dream Academy is transforming children into dreamers who envision and realize their potential.

Afflalo was first introduced to this academy during his first stint with the Magic and he has stayed involved with them the last several years even when he played for other teams.

“We were thrilled, we were really excited about the opportunity,” said Diane Wallace Booker, executive director of the U.S. Dream Academy who says the funding from Afflalo will be used to create new teen internships and jobs for the summer and expand the mentoring program. “He’s been a supporter for a long time but it was still a big surprise that we were selected.”

“We’ve been in the Orlando community since 2007 and this program here in Orlando is one of our biggest programs where we have really seen significant outcomes for the young people in this community,” she added. “We’re very proud of that and we’re very proud of our young people because they work really hard to achieve their dreams.”

Afflalo is inspired by the rapid development of the Central Florida community since the last time he played for the Magic. From his perspective, and it’s a perspective seemingly shared by all of his teammates as well, the Magic are a big reason for this evolution.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “Growth is everything. It gives you hope. It gives you inspiration. It gives you reason to get up and do great things. The more people that are appreciative of days like today the better.”

“This organization is first class in that area,” he added. “They are all about service and allowing me to do this just by participating throughout the year in some community service. It’s a great benefit for me, it’s a great benefit for the team, it’s a great benefit for the community. I’m proud to be a part of it.”