Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard was named a co-winner of the 2011-12 Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award along with teammate J.J. Redick on Saturday night at the 22nd OMYF Black Tie and Tennies Gala.
It’s the sixth time in eight years in Orlando that Dwight has been named the outstanding Magic player involved in community projects. It’s also the fifth straight year that Dwight has won the award.
Each year at the Gala, the OMYF honors a player who has dedicated his efforts off the court for the purpose of enhancing others’ lives. A panel of external representatives selects the player. In addition to receiving the award, Dwight will be granted $50,000 from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation to donate to the charity of his choice.
Dwight has consistently volunteered his time off the court and to the Central Florida community supporting the initiatives of the Magic’s community relations department, the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation and the NBA.
Some of Dwight’s off-court highlights of his community involvement for the 2011-12 season include:
• Through his D12 Foundation, Dwight held his one-year anniversary celebration with youth from the Parramore Kiz Zone.
• Dwight hosted the “D12 Strikes” bowling tournament to benefit children in Central Florida.
• Dwight participated in the player ticket program by purchasing more than 2,100 tickets for children at the Boys and Girls Club, Beta Center, Parramore Teens, and many more to attend Magic home games.
• As part of his 2011 Community Enrichment Award, Dwight donated $25,000 to the BETA Center to support the newly developed “Dwight Howard Learning Center” at BETA. The learning center is a newly designed program that incorporates innovative activities to empower teen moms to achieve academic and vocational success.
• Dwight also donated $25,000 of his 2011 CEA Award money to “Blessings in a Backpack” to provide children from Lake Como and Kaley Elementary with a nutritious meal on the weekends.
• Dwight fulfilled wishes for youth before Magic home games by participating in meet and greets with terminally ill children.
• Dwight has also been active with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, serving as an ambassador to assist in their fundraising efforts.
• Dwight participated in the NBA’s “Basketball Without Borders” program. The program focuses on education, grassroots basketball development and HIV/AIDS education and advocacy.
• Dwight participated in internal autograph sessions, which helps support Central Florida non-profit organizations by raising money through silent auctions.
• And during All-Star weekend 2012 in Orlando, Dwight participated in NBA Cares service project at the downtown Coalition for the Homeless.
Past winners of the Community Enrichment Award award include Nick Anderson (1995-1996), Penny Hardaway (1996-1997), Darrell Armstrong (1997-1998, 1999-2000), Grant Hill (2000-2001), Monty Williams (2001-2002), Tracy McGrady (2002-2003), Pat Garrity (2003-2004) and Bo Outlaw (1998-1999, 2005-2006, 2006-2007). But no one has won the award more than Dwight, who clearly takes seriously his role of being a difference maker in the Orlando community.