Arron Afflalo Wins 2017-18 Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO – What kept popping up in Arron Afflalo’s mind (and heart) when he became a free agent last summer were all the fond memories from his first stint with the Orlando Magic.

It was then, from 2012 to 2014, that Afflalo was in his prime and recording the best stats of his career.

But even more satisfying for Afflalo during that time was his devotion to the Central Florida community. He developed an incredible connection to his fans and always took the time to show them his appreciation.

While the opportunity to join a young team that needed veteran leadership was key in his decision, Afflalo’s reverence for the city of Orlando and all of its neighboring communities was a big reason why he decided to return to the Magic.

So eager to pick up where he left off, Afflalo wasted no time showing his compassion for others. Throughout this season, his charitable contributions, which included hosting and sponsoring a Thanksgiving meal distribution for 450 local underserved families and taking youth on a cultural field trip to historic Eatonville, have empowered many children and families.

Afflalo was named the winner of the 2017-18 Rich & Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award during the 28th Annual Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF) Black Tie & Tennies Gala at Amway Center on Saturday. Grateful and humbled by this honor, Afflalo hopes this achievement will be a positive lesson for others and will help inspire the entire community.

“Coming back to the organization, it meant so much more than basketball,” he said. “It was just a commitment to wanting the most for this organization overall. Being a Magic player represents more than just the basketball component.”

“It’s important because there’s this uplifting factor,” he added. “One it’s about trying to be a better basketball team, but two it’s about giving our time and our effort and trying to take on this challenge as a city and making it something bigger than just me being a basketball player.”

In addition to the award, Afflalo will be granted $50,000 from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation to donate to a charity of his choice. Afflalo, refreshed to know he will be able to assist more children in the near future with this gift, says this is more of a team award because of how dedicated everyone in the Magic organization is to community outreach.

“There’s a lot of people who are committed to just making this a much better place,” he said. “This is not something for me to be individually recognized for. This is truly a team effort.”

Past winners of the award include Nick Anderson, Penny Hardaway, Darrell Armstrong, Grant Hill, Monty Williams, Tracy McGrady, Pat Garrity, Bo Outlaw, Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton.

In January, the OMYF presented checks totaling $1,004,000 to 27 grantee organizations.

The OMYF is committed to helping children in Central Florida realize their full potential, especially those most at-risk, by supporting nonprofit organizations offering youth based programs in the areas of youth education, housing/homelessness, and health and wellness programs that promote healthy living practices for at-risk children and families. For more information, visit www.omyf.org.

This also marks the final year of the OMYF Black Tie & Tennies Gala. The Gala will hang up the tennies after a successful 28-year run. To replace the OMYF Black Tie & Tennies Gala, the Magic will host the Inaugural Orlando Wine Festival and Auction which will debut in March 2019. The Orlando Wine Festival and Auction will feature a weekend of events including exclusive vintner dinners, an outdoor festival featuring live music, live auction displays, local and celebrity chefs, wineries, and food pavilions, along with Magic players and coaches.