Orlando Magic's Signature Fundraising Event Has New Look, But Same Goal

by Dan Savage

ORLANDO – In a year dedicated to celebrating their 30-year history in the NBA, the Orlando Magic are honoring their past, while creating a new path for the future.

The Magic took another step in that direction, as they debuted the new signature fundraiser for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF), the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction on March 16.

The inaugural event replaces the near three-decade tradition of the OMYF Black Tie & Tennies Gala in the Magic’s quest to build the premier fundraising event for the children of Central Florida.

“The whole goal of it is similar to the Gala and that is to raise as much money as we can for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “We've done an unbelievable job of that over the last 30 years raising over 24 million dollars – the last several years raising over a million dollars a year – but you know the need in our community is great and we feel like we can do more, and these type of food and wine events throughout the country typically raise multi-millions of dollars.”

The weekend-long event featured 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, and culminated with the Magic’s matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.

The star-studded cast of chefs for the weekend included Akshay Bhardwaj – Executive Chef at Michelin-star Junoon; Chef Joe Flamm - winner of Bravo TV's Top Chef Season 15 and Executive Chef at Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia; Chef Kevin Fonzo – formerly of K Restaurant/now private chef; Chef Scott Hunnel –Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa; Chef Tony Mantuano – James Beard Award winner and chef-partner at Michelin-star restaurant Spiaggia in Chicago along with Café Spiaggia, River Roast and Terralina Crafted Italian located in Disney Springs; Chef Brandon McGlamery – Chef/Partner Luma on Park, Prato, Luke's Kitchen and Bar; Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto; Chefs James and Julie Petrakis – The Ravenous Pig; Chef Justin Plank – Executive Chef at Terralina Crafted Italian; Chef Steve Richard - Executive Chef at Paddlefish; and Chef Art Smith – James Beard Award Winner.

The world-renowned wineries included Accendo Cellars (Napa, Calif.); Arietta Winery (St. Helena, Calif.); Casa Piena (Yountville, Calif.); Château Cos d’Estournel (Bordeaux, France); Cliff Lede (Napa, Calif.); Dakota Shy (St. Helena, Calif.); D.R. Stephens Estate (St. Helena, Calif.); Dunn Vineyards (Angwin, Calif.); Dutton-Goldfield Winery (Sebastopol, Calif.); Haut Medoc Selection (Bordeaux, France); Heitz Cellar (St. Helena, Calif.); Hourglass (Napa, Calif.); Justin and Landmark Winery (Paso Robles & Sonoma Valley, Calif.); Lail Vineyards (St. Helena, Calif.); Modus Wines (St. Helena, Calif.); Morlet Vineyards (St. Helena, Calif.); Peacock Vineyard (Napa, Calif.); Peter Michael Winery (Napa, Calif.); RELIC Cellars (Napa, Calif.); Revana Winery (St. Helena, Calif.); Roy Estate (Napa, Calif.); Rudd/Edge Hill (Oakville, Calif.); Saint Helena Winery (St. Helena, Calif.); Secret Door (Napa, Calif.); Stewart Cellars (Yountville, Calif.); Tor Wines (St. Helena, Calif.)

Each of the chefs and wineries donated their time to prepare signature dishes paired with the perfect wines at the vintner dinners around Central Florida on Friday, and created culinary delights and wine samplings for the guests at the festival on Saturday. The dinner followed the festival and was headlined by Chefs Joe Flamm and Tony Mantuano from Spiaggia in Chicago along with the featured vintner, Casa Piena.

“To be here is a huge honor and privilege for me, especially the first one for us to kick it off,” Chef Joe Flamm explained. “It kind of sets the bar right away of what this event is going to be and it's the setting point for years to come of what this event is going to grow into, so we're deeply honored to be here.”

Each year, the Magic give more than $2 million to Central Florida by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise and grants, but at the heart of their charitable efforts is the work done by the OMYF.

“This is such a great event,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who marveled at the Magic and DeVos family’s commitment to the Central Florida community. “The OMYF has been such a great part of our city for over 30 years.”

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 education, housing/homelessness, the arts and health programs focused on preventing childhood obesity.

“It’s really where it all comes from,” said Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, who along with Aaron Gordon was named one of this year’s co-winners of the Rich & Helen DeVos Community Enrichment award at the event. “We do a lot of things on our own as players, but a lot of things we do come from the ideas of the Orlando Magic and their want to help people and help the community. The hat goes off to this organization and how great they are.”

Over the last 29 years more than $24 million has been distributed to local nonprofit community organizations through the OMYF. The DeVos family’s investment in the OMYF covers all administrative costs which allows for 100 percent of all donations to go directly to the foundation to benefit children and families in need throughout Central Florida each year. The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the OMYF Open Golf Tournament and of course, the inaugural Orlando Wine Festival and Auction.

“It’s been outstanding,” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos explained. “It’s already had a very positive impact on our community in Central Florida.”

An impact that will continue to grow for years to come.

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