Orlando Magic “Pays it Forward” on Christmas Day

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The Orlando Magic celebrated Christmas in a BIG way surprising the McKinley family during the Magic vs. Celtics matchup on Christmas day.
The Orlando Magic celebrated Christmas in a BIG way surprising the McKinley family during the Magic vs. Celtics matchup on Christmas day. The Magic, Warner Brothers and Chick-fil-A showered the family with gifts and other items to assist them through difficult times. The family was invited on court at halftime for the surprise along with Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, Magic Dancers and STUFF the Magic mascot.

The Orlando Magic celebrated Christmas in a BIG way surprising the McKinley family during the Magic vs. Celtics matchup on Christmas day.  The Magic, Warner Brothers and Chick-fil-A showered the family of five with gifts and other items to assist them through difficult times.

The Orlando Magic celebrated Christmas in a BIG way surprising the McKinley family during the Magic vs. Celtics matchup on Christmas day.
The Orlando Magic celebrated Christmas in a BIG way surprising the McKinley family during the Magic vs. Celtics matchup on Christmas day. The Magic, Warner Brothers and Chick-fil-A showered the family with gifts and other items to assist them through difficult times. The family was invited on court at halftime for the surprise along with Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, Magic Dancers and STUFF the Magic mascot.

To keep it all a surprise, the McKinley family was invited to the game as the “Magic family” for the afternoon.  At halftime the revelation occurred, they were given a $5,000 check from the Magic along with a flat screen TV, DVD player, digital camera, Wii game system; Warner Brothers donated $1,000 to the family along with toys, clothes, video games, DVDs; and Chick-fil-A will supply the McKinley’s with a “family meal card” which will provide the entire family with a meal at Chick-fil-A each day for one year.  The entire day was an experience to remember as a town car picked up/will take home the family from the game and they all had lunch in the Cannon Club.

McKinley Family Bio:

Mom:              Latrice McKinley

Children:        Patrick McKinley, 18, senior at Ocoee High School

Shayona McKinley, 15, freshman at Ocoee High School

Jonathan McKinley, 13, in IB program at Robinswood Middle School

William McKinley, 9, Hungerford Elementary

McKinley family nomination provided by Jewish Family Services (JFS):

Latrice (Mom) is in her late 30s and has 4 beautiful kids: Patrick, who’s 18 and a senior at Ocoee HS; Shayona, who’s 15 and a freshman at Ocoee; Jonathan, who’s 13 and in the IB program at Robinswood MS and William, who’s 9 and goes to Hungerford Elementary.  All four kids have done remarkably well in school, in spite of a series of hardships that would take down lesser personalities.

Latrice has worked in retail in various supervisory positions for the last 20 years, all without a HS diploma.  She was raised in the projects in Parramore in the ’70s and has had little opportunity, other than those created by some powerful internal integrity and drive that kept her free of the drugs and crime that were all around her.  She is a classic example of a single working mom who has managed to not only support her family, albeit with some public support, but create an environment that they could thrive in, both academically and athletically. She is a master at securing resources for her children that keep them active in positive pursuits.

…and then came August 2009.  Latrice was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after a health crisis while at work.  Though she knew she had diabetes and high blood pressure, she had gone without her meds for about eight months in order to take care of medical bills incurred after her daughter was hit by a car while coming home from school earlier in the year.  Since that time, she has been out of work, though on leave through the Family Leave Act.  She has had major surgery, nearly lost her house to an out-of-state landlord who was going to let the house go into foreclosure, her 13-year-old son who has asthma was hospitalized with H1N1, her power was turned off and her children’s games and toys were pawned to pay some bills. Though Jewish Family Services has stepped in and provided significant support, and will continue to do so through this crisis period, you can imagine how far behind this courageous mom is.

When report cards came out about a month ago, three of the kids had made honor roll.  Latrice really wanted to celebrate them, THEY wanted to be celebrated!  But, there was no money for a movie or a dinner out, and Latrice’s heart was broken.  The run up to Christmas feels the same to her, though she won’t let on to the kids.  They are preparing for a Christmas without gifts, but with a strong message from their mom that Christmas is really about being together.

As of last week, five weeks post-surgery, Latrice returned to work on Black Friday, working a shift from 3 a.m. until 3 p.m.  In the midst of all this hardship, Latrice has organized a toy drive for JFS to benefit other families.  Amazing, really.  We hope you agree with us that this family deserves an evening of celebration.  There would be no greater treat for them than to be able to cheer on their favorite team ever, and be able to go to a Magic game together.

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