Orlando Magic Host Vintner Dinner to Announce and Preview 2022 Orlando Wine Festival & Auction

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - March 11, 2020 was no ordinary day, as you probably recall. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and the NBA, after the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, paused their season.

Back in Central Florida, the Orlando Magic were getting ready to host their biggest fundraising event of the year. The Orlando Wine Festival & Auction, which the prior year raised nearly $1 million for at-risk children in the community, was set to begin that Friday with vintner dinners at the homes of several community philanthropists.

Obviously, because of social distancing guidelines at the time, the Magic had to cancel those dinners, along with the remainder of that weekend’s planned festivities.

“I remember literally our vintners from Napa were getting on a plane and we had to call them and say we are going to have to cancel,” Magic CEO Alex Martins recalls. “Because the previous night the Utah Jazz with Rudy Gobert had to cancel their game and the NBA stopped. And that really started the whole process of cancelling sporting events and ultimately people really sheltering in during the initial stages of COVID.”

The creation of highly effective vaccines to protect against COVID-19 has made it safer to reassemble, and with that in mind, the Magic are extremely delighted to announce that the second Orlando Wine Festival & Auction will take place on March 19, 2022 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Visit wineauctionorlando.com for more information.

To celebrate that announcement and show their enormous appreciation for those who have gone above and beyond giving back to their community, the Magic welcomed over 60 philanthropists to that same resort on its Da Vinci Lawn for a special vintner dinner on Saturday, Dec. 4.

“It’s great to get all these folks back out and to be able to thank them for their commitment,” Martins said. “They honored their commitment financially. They said keep our money. We’ve committed to it. We believe in the (Orlando Magic Youth) Foundation (OMYF). And we wanted to do something for them to thank them for doing that. But also to look forward and to get ready and really kick this back in for the wine festival and auction The biggest thanks have to go to the DeVos family because during this gap of 2020 and 2021 they’ve given $800,000 both years to maintain our level of million dollar giving to at-risk children’s organizations in Central Florida. We’re incredibly thankful to them to keep this process going.”

The inaugural Orlando Wine Festival & Auction in 2019 had replaced the Black Tie & Tennies Gala, which had previously been the OMYF’s signature fundraising event for 28 years.

As part of the festivities for the 2022 edition, there will be an auction and dinner featuring award-winning wines, sumptuous meals prepared by celebrity chefs, and the opportunity to bid on exclusive auction lots.

The money raised will go to the OMYF, which is committed to helping children in Central Florida realize their full potential, especially those most at risk, by supporting programs and partnerships that empower families and change lives.

This year, the OMYF distributed a combined total of $1 million to various nonprofit organizations spread across Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. One of those organizations was Pace Center for Girls, which received $100,000 in June for their program that provides specialized curriculum and tutoring for vulnerable middle and high school girls.

“I’m going to try not to cry again,” Rosene Johnson, Pace Center for Girls - Orange County Privilege Director, said when her organization received the check at a ceremony at Amway Center over the summer. “That amount is really, truly, to me, is transformation because now it gives us that edge that we need to really take what we’re doing over the top and to make sure that we don’t have any girls fall behind. Again, I was beyond surprised. I was not ready.”

Over the past 31 years, the OMYF has distributed over $26 million to more than 500 local nonprofit community organizations – impacting more than two million at-risk kids. Those numbers are now going to grow even more after the OMYF received $800,000 last month from the DeVos family as part of their mission to invest in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida.

Called “30 grants for 30 years,” the family’s donation pledge seeks to recognize the Orlando community’s strong partnership with the Magic franchise since the team was purchased by the DeVos family 30 years ago.

“We can’t image better partners than Magic fans and the Central Florida community,” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos said. “We’re eager to come alongside nonprofits doing impactful work, providing financial support as well as an opportunity to shine a light on the great things these nonprofits do on a daily basis. It’s all to honor the great community we’re thankful to be in.”

Each selected nonprofit will be honored at its very own Magic game in the 2021-22 or 2022-23 season. Representatives will be honored during the game, featured on Magic digital platforms, and given the chance to share their story with fans of the franchise.

The OMYF was the first to be honored. That occurred on Nov. 24 during the Magic’s contest against the Charlotte Hornets at Amway Center where OMYF President Linda Landman Gonzalez was met by Magic Vice President of Shareholder Engagement Ryan DeVos and his wife Michelle at center court and the organization was presented with the $800,000 check.

“In this very difficult time that we’ve been through, not having the ability to fundraise as we usually do, this gift is the difference between us delivering what we always hope to for our community, one million dollars per year,” said Landman Gonzalez, whose organization generates much of its revenue through in-person fundraising events like the OMYF Golf Tournament and the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction. “We would not be able to do that without this gift from the DeVos family.”


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