Orlando Magic Show Their Appreciation for Healthcare Professionals

by John Denton

ORLANDO - Classifying medical professionals as ``our heroes,’’ the Orlando Magic’s leadership team, front office, players and broadcasters offered heartfelt thanks to those healthcare employees for their brave work in the face of the coronavirus pandemic in a video tribute posted online on Thursday.

Magic CEO Alex Martins, President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman, center Nikola Vucevic, forward Jonathan Isaac, point guard Markelle Fultz and Fox Sports Florida broadcasters David Steele and Dante Marchitelli contributed to a video designed to send out gratitude and appreciation to healthcare professionals working to try and heal the ill and attempting to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

``While we shelter at home and protect our families and loved ones, you guys wake up every day and leave your homes, leave your families and your loved ones behind and expose yourself to risk for us,’’ Weltman said in the video. ``That is the definition of a hero. … You guys are our heroes. So, again, from Magic Basketball, thank you.’’

Added Martins: ``Know that you are greatly appreciated and that we all sincerely thank you for the work that you are doing. … Stay safe, stay healthy and thank you for keeping us all healthy.’’

According to the Orlando Business Journal, Advent Health employs 21,815 health care workers, while Orlando Health has another 19,032 workers based in the Orlando area. Those medical professionals have been inundated in recent weeks with testing and treating patients suffering from symptoms caused by the COVID-19 virus. According to the Florida Department of Health’s updated numbers as of Thursday afternoon, Florida has 8,010 cases of COVID-19 and 128 deaths related to the virus.

Medical professionals fear that those numbers could continue to skyrocket in the days, weeks and months ahead, making the services provided by healthcare workers even more vital to the well-being of the public.
``Please keep doing it because we need you to get through this virus. God bless you, God bless your efforts. Be encouraged, continue to be strong and help us get through this,’’ Isaac said. ``Thank you so much for your strength, thank you so much for your hearts and for your contributions to mankind. We appreciate you. And this is on behalf of everybody in Orlando, we say thank you so much for what you are doing.’’

Said Vucevic, the longest-tenured player on the Magic at eight seasons in Orlando: ``Thank you guys for everything that you do during this very difficult time for all of us. You guys are making sacrifices to make sure our community stays safe and we really appreciate that.’’

Added Fultz: ``I wanted to take a minute out to thank you for all of the hard work you guys are doing to keep us safe during these trying times. We’re very thankful to know that we have such a strong and talented team looking out for all of us.’’

The Magic, whose season was put on hold when the NBA suspended all operations on March 11, have been active in the Central Florida area in recent weeks to try and help those in need because of the lingering effects of the novel coronavirus. The DeVos family, owners of the Magic for nearly 29 years, recently backed a $2 million fund that will pay hourly employees of the Magic, Lakeland Magic, Orlando Solar Bears and the Amway Center who would have otherwise been missing out on income with the various sports’ seasons being suspended. Vucevic and Mo Bamba were among the first Magic players to pledge assistance in the payment of the workers during the suspension of the Magic season.

Isaac and Wes Iwundu have been leaders in Project Life, Inc. and J.U.M.P. Ministries’ mission to feed school-aged children in need in recent weeks. Isaac, a third-year member of the Magic, reported that Project Life and J.U.M.P. Ministries delivered an average of 187 meals a day last week and served another 250—plus meals daily. Isaac said that his group delivered 200 box meals within 30-45 minutes last Friday, signifying the tremendous need among those who are struggling to fill even the most basic of needs following the downturn of the economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those efforts have continued this week, and the groups are hopeful that those in the Central Florida community will donate to the efforts at ProjectLifeNow.org.

Magic forward Aaron Gordon, who shared the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment award with Isaac in 2019, recently donated to the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools in an effort to assist some of the 7,000 homeless students and approximately 150,000 students in the OCPS school system who depend on free-or-reduced breakfasts and lunches with ``grab-and-go’’ food while classes are out of session. Gordon also made a financial contribution to ``My New Red Shoes,’’ a non-profit organization that supplies well-fitted shoes and clean clothes to those in need in Gordon’s hometown of San Jose, Calif.

Hoping to assist those who are bravely helping others in his boyhood home, Magic point guard D.J. Augustin donated to ``Krewe of Red Beans’’ in New Orleans, one of the nation’s hardest-hit cities by the COVID-19 pandemic. ``Krewe of Red Beans’’ delivers food from local restaurants to frontline medical workers in the New Orleans area.

Magic officials, players and broadcasters have been eager to show their gratitude to medical professionals working tirelessly to help those in need in this time of great crisis. While hundreds of millions of Americans have been told to shelter themselves and their families at home, medical professionals continue to work daily at helping those who have either been exposed to the virus or have contracted it.

``We understand that you are more than just healthcare workers; you’re mothers and fathers, you’re grandmothers and grandfathers, you’re sons and daughters,’’ said Steele, who is considered to be ``The Voice of the Magic’’ for his 31 years of play-by-play work for the Magic. ``We want you to know that we’re praying for you and your families during this difficult time.’’

Added Marchitelli, the sideline reporter for Fox Sports Florida and the radio host of ``Magic Drive Time’’: ``These are trying times and we can’t thank you enough for the job that you are doing to keep our community safe.’’

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.

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