Children, military able to experience NBA events
The NBA preseason game between the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans won't influence the standings, but it could mean much for area children and fans.
The two-day "NBA in Jax" culminates with the game Wednesday at the Veterans Memorial Arena, where 500 children who might not have had the opportunity to see the sporting event now will through the Jaguars Foundation's Honor Rows program. The program rewards academic goals, participation in community service and show exceptional character.
"They have earned this opportunity," said Peter Racine, foundation president.
EverBank purchased the 500 tickets for the Honors Rows children in programs such as Community Connections, Boys & Girls Clubs, The Bridge of Northeast Florida and several others.
On Tuesday, children in several area schools also will see and hear from former NBA stars.
Led by local NBA Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore, former stars Rick Barry, George Gervin, Christian Laettner and David Thompson will visit Butler and Northwestern middle schools and Edward Waters College on Tuesday. The former players will also attend the game to meet fans.
"The intent is to tell them (the students) to be prepared. There are extraordinary challenges ahead of them and now is the time to prepare," Gilmore said Thursday.
Gilmore, a former star player at Jacksonville University, is the city's sports, entertainment and physical fitness ambassador.
Mayor Alvin Brown announced Thursday that Florida Blue will be the presenting sponsor for the two-day event.
The company will provide tickets to military members for the game.
"We have lots of folks at our company as well as people across the community that have family connections to the military," said Pat Geraghty, Florida Blue chairman and CEO.
The city expects to break even on the event, which is expect to cost about $335,000.