By Josh Cohen March 4, 2014
ORLANDO – Tom Heines and his team drove 14 hours from Cleveland to Orlando to make a difference in children’s lives and it was undeniable that the exhausting travel was well worth it.
On Sunday at a local Orlando Magic recreation center, Heines and three other volunteers from Basketball Assist, a nonprofit organization based in Ohio that helps make the game accessible for youth with socioeconomic, physical or cognitive challenges, partnered with the Magic to conduct an “Everyone Wins” clinic for kids with special needs.
Kids of all different ages and backgrounds got an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of basketball, including shooting, dribbling and passing in a social environment. And it was a tremendous success as the children had a blast not only playing the game they love but also making new friends. Each participant also received tickets to Sunday’s Magic game at Amway Center against the 76ers.
“It is so fulfilling, so rewarding,” said Heines, executive director of Basketball Assist. “It’s all about giving them a social experience and helping them develop self-esteem. It’s amazing; it’s a blessing to us.”
Basketball Assist has grown in recent months with NBA teams like the Magic getting involved to help empower children with special needs. They have built stronger ties with several teams around the league and believe it is headed in a direction that will benefit children across the country.
While Sunday’s event was the first of its kind in Central Florida, it almost certainly will not be its last.
“The Magic are super,” Heines said. “I know their hearts are in the right place. The Magic are a Class A organization. (We are) so happy to partner with them with this effort.”
The Magic are very committed to their camps and Junior Magic league programs. There are dozens of opportunities in the spring and summer for children of all ages and skill levels to receive expert basketball instruction from the most elite trainers and mentors in Florida.
To learn more about Magic camps and leagues, please visit www.OrlandoMagicCamps.com. Orlando Magic Youth Basketball is presented by UnitedHealthcare and officially sponsored by Gatorade and NBA City.