NEW YORK – The NBA has named Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard as the recipient of the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for October in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the community and for his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work.
Howard is being honored in part for his commitment to helping create a state-of-the-art game room designed especially for teenagers at the Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando. Having made numerous visits to the hospital in past years, Howard recently decided that he wanted to make a larger, lasting impact. As part of his new “Dwight Howard’s Big Change for Kids” program, Howard provided an initial $30,000 to fund the new room, which will feature the latest in videogame technology, movies, board games, and education resources to provide young patients undergoing difficult medical treatment with a place to relax and have fun. He plans to continually support the project through fundraising efforts at local businesses, schools, and places of worship.
“God blessed me with more than I could ever imagine,” said Howard. “Being able to give back to these kids and to people who really need help is very important to me.”
Howard and his parents, Dwight, Sr. and Sheryl Howard, began their efforts to empower young people across America to reach their highest potential when they established the Dwight D. Howard Foundation in 2004. In late October, the foundation hosted “Community Spirit Week,” a five-day celebration that featured leadership seminars, educational programming, and fun for Orlando-area youth. Over the past five years, the foundation has also helped students by granting them scholarships to attend Howard’s alma mater, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, and has provided financial assistance to Central Florida schools Lovell Elementary and Memorial Middle.
This award marks Howard’s third NBA Cares Community Assist Award. Following his first award in July 2007, Howard earned his second in January 2009 in part for his support of the Parramore Kidz Zone Teen Shack at Orlando’s Downtown Recreation Complex. Howard continues to support a number of other charitable efforts focused on local youth, including the Blessings in a Backpack program, a national nonprofit initiative that tipped off in October 2008 and supports low-income children and their families. Through the program, Howard helps provide students at Orlando’s Lake Como Elementary School with six take-home meals each weekend in an effort to ensure that they receive the nutrition they need to help them learn and grow.
In addition, Howard is an integral part of the Magic’s community service initiatives throughout the season and recently participated in the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program, traveling with a group of other players and coaches to South Africa for a week of basketball and community development activities.
As the October NBA Cares Community Assist Award recipient, Howard will receive the David Robinson Plaque with the inscription, “Following the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson who improved the community piece by piece.” In addition, a $5,000 donation will be given by the NBA to Howard’s Big Change for Kids program.
The league presents the NBA Cares Community Assist Award monthly to recognize players for their charitable efforts. The award honors the NBA player who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.