Orlando may be Dwight Howard’s town, but that didn’t stop his Eastern Conference All Star teammate Dwyane Wade from putting on for the city this weekend with a slew of charity events inspired by President Barack Obama’s Fatherhood Initiative.
The Miami Heat guard started his 5th Annual All-Star weekend off with Friday’s “Fatherhood Heroes” Roundtable Discussions event with special guests from the White House Office of Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships and Office of Public Engagement, the “Work Hard, Play Hard” Rally, where Wade, along with his Wade’s World Foundation, unveiled two brand new basketball courts for Tangelo Park Elementary School and ended on a high note with yesterday’s All-Star Luncheon, which raised money to support the Tangelo Park Program, a community-based educational initiative to benefit children and families living in the Tangelo Park neighborhood in Orlando.
Flash hosted the luncheon with chairperson Harris Rosen (President & COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts).
“Well you try to go into communities and look for someone doing great things in that community,” Wade said. “There’s so many to pick from but I think Mr. Rosen was the reason why we decided to do this with Tangelo Park. It’s because of all the great things he’s trying to do here. I mean to much is given, much is required, and he has a lot and he’s given a lot, so we wanted to make sure we could come here and help.”
Also on hand to help people open their wallets with aplomb was Grammy Award-winning artist Estelle, who blessed those in attendance with her hit “American Boy.” And for those of who appreciate a crowd peppered with beautiful women, actress Gabrielle Union was on hand looking as if she’s just stepped off the red carpet.
Everyone was wearing their Sunday’s best, but it was the kids who shone the brightest, looking dapper and wearing megawatt smiles as their favorite athlete presented the check to the initiative.
“The biggest thing a kid can do for me is smile,” Wade said. “That’s what I love to see. I love to see the smiles on kids’ faces. That shows happiness. Especially when we do an event and we go out to Tangelo Park and you just see these kids just grinning with big smiles on their faces just to see you show up and be there.”
Wade’s appreciation for being the object of these kids adoration is more than just lip service. The Jordan Brand athlete remembers when he was a kid who longed for athletes to care enough to show up.
“I’ve been that kid before where I needed hope and I needed someone to show up and be there,” Wade said. “And to be able to come here and to leave something behind is priceless.”
So who did Wade want to meet when he was a kid?
“There’s a lot of celebrities I wanted to meet as a kid and I’ve gotten to meet most of them,” Wade said. “I always wanted to meet a Magic Johnson. I always wanted to meet Michael Jordan. And I wanted to meet winners like Bill Russell. It’s so many people and I’ve had the distinct pleasure to not only see them but have conversations with them and feel their presence and greatness so I’ve been blessed.”