By Josh CohenDec. 15, 2015
ORLANDO – When he was named co-winner of the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award last March and was granted $50,000 to donate to charities of his choice, Victor Oladipo quickly identified a subject he wanted to assist with. It was an area close to Oladipo’s heart and one he’s come to learn a lot about over the years.
On Tuesday, Dec. 15, Oladipo surprised the UCF Listening Center with $35,000 to help serve families and children who have a hearing loss.
Oladipo’s sister, Kendra, became deaf when she was in the second grade. And while it was challenging for the entire family, Oladipo saw how perseverance, determination, faith and resilience could conquer the most difficult of obstacles.
“It taught me about how to face adversity,” Oladipo said. “Kendra is a huge reason why I am here right now. She believed in herself. It’s an inspiration. She’s an amazing human being.”
“When you have a bad game or a rough week, she texts me and it changes my whole demeanor, it changes my whole mindset,” he added. “It’s definitely helpful to have her in my corner.”
Like her brother who was an under-the-radar basketball prodigy at DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland before starring at Indiana University and becoming a No. 2 overall NBA Draft pick, Kendra, 25, has overcome many challenges. She’s currently a substitute teacher at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington D.C. and will soon be attending graduate school in California.
In addition to the check presentation, Oladipo got a tour of the UCF Listening Center and learned about the programs and technologies they have to offer. Joined by his sister and mother, Joan, Oladipo was thrilled to see how the funds he has given will help so many people of all ages improve their ability to communicate.
The $35,000 donation will be used to provide a variety of services at the center and provide a one-week summer camp for children with hearing loss.
“I’m grateful and touched by this presentation,” Associate Professor at UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs Linda Rosa-Lugo said. “The earlier a child with hearing loss is identified, amplified and receives appropriate services, the more opportunities the children will have to succeed. This gift will really allow us to serve children and families and prepare our students.”
Oladipo still has $15,000 left to donate to another charity from the Community Enrichment Award grant. While he hasn’t yet decided which organization to assist next, Oladipo is ecstatic knowing he will soon be helping more people live healthier lives.
“I feel like it is our duty to be able to give back to people less fortunate than us,” Oladipo said. “I’m just going to continue to keep doing that.”
Tobias Harris was the other co-winner of the award. He recently made his donation to Nap Ford Community School and the Orlando Community & Youth Trust to assist in intellectual and social tools to improve education and mentoring initiatives for Parramore-area youth.
Each year, the Orlando Magic honor a player or players who have dedicated their efforts off the court for the purpose of enhancing others’ lives. The award is handed out each year at the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Black Tie & Tennies Gala.