Orlando Magic's OMYF Open Raises a Record $240K for Local At-Risk Youth

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO – After Mo Bamba was selected sixth overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, one of the many things the 7-foot center was excited about at the start of his NBA journey was helping children throughout Central Florida reach their full potential.

As you might expect from someone who aspires to embolden kids, the 20-year-old wasted no time jumping into action by surprising youth at a Magic Youth Academy Basketball Camp in August. While walking them through drills on the court, Bamba relayed some very inspiring messages to all the children.

Now, three months since that event, the native of Harlem, N.Y. is even more eager and motivated to steer youth down promising paths.

Heartened by the fact that his teammates care just as much as he does about helping children achieve their goals, Bamba was elated to join Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross and Wes Iwundu at the 28th Annual Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF) Open Golf Tournament on Thursday (Nov. 8) at Disney’s Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses.

“It’s just really fulfilling,” Bamba said with a pair of customized golf clubs in his hand. “To some people it’s just an appearance, but I actually enjoy it. I like to indulge in different things that they do out here in Orlando.”

“Thankfully for me, for our organization and the city, these are a group of guys that actually enjoy doing these types of things in the community,” he added.

More than 200 golfers participated in this year’s OMYF Open, which raised a record $240,000 for under-served children in Central Florida.

The Magic and the DeVos family are committed to the community. Over the last 28 years, more than $23 million has been distributed to local nonprofit community organizations through the OMYF, which is committed to helping youth realize their full potential.

The DeVos family’s investment in the OMYF covers all administrative costs, allowing for 100 percent of all donations to go directly to the foundation to benefit children and families. The OMYF raises money through donations, auctions and events such as the OMYF Open and the inaugural Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, which is scheduled for March 15-17, 2019 at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.

“It’s really gratifying that we can have fun, we can bring our fans together, but most importantly raise money for the kids,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “It’s great to have the players here. They were interacting with our fans and having a great time. They understand what our mission is to help the kids of Central Florida and they are always great about participating.”

Following a competitive round on the links, participants enjoyed a unique shopping experience at the on-site Magic golf shop and an exclusive awards luncheon. One golfer in particular won a two-year lease on a BMW from Fields Auto Group, a grand prize for making a hole-in-one.

Now in his seventh NBA season and third with the Magic, Ross has seen first-hand how fundraisers can dramatically improve lives and neighborhoods.

“It’s amazing, especially when you have your own kids, it puts a lot of things into perspective,” the 27-year-old said. “It’s fun because I was definitely at one point of my life one of those kids, so it’s great to know that somebody is out there looking out for you.”

With another successful OMYF Open in the books, the Magic now look forward to the team's signature fundraiser in March, the inaugural Orlando Wine Festival and Auction benefiting the OMYF. The Orlando Wine Festival and Auction will replace the Magic's Black Tie and Tennies Gala after a 28-year run and will include exclusive vintner dinners, an outdoor festival featuring live music, live auction displays, local and celebrity chefs, wineries, and food pavilions.

“Although our Black Tie and Tennies Gala was a great event for 28 years, we wanted to raise more money and our goal is to raise more than a million (dollars) on an annual basis and I think the Wine Festival and Auction is going to give us a great opportunity to do that,” Martins said.

For more information on the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, please visit www.wineauctionorlando.com, and for more information on the OMYF please visit www.omyf.org.

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