By Josh Cohen, OrlandoMagic.com
More than 100 U.S. soldiers celebrated with Orlando Magic players after they watched the hometown team win an overtime thriller on Fri., Nov. 7 at Amway Center.
It was the ideal ending to Seats for Soldiers Night presented by Harris Corporation where active and retired military personnel and their families were honored for their bravery and devotion.
For 11 straight years, the Magic have hosted Seats for Soldiers Night to acknowledge the heroes of this country. More than 2,000 military members and their families attended the game and nearly all participated in a variety of activities and observances throughout the night.
“It’s always fun to give back but especially the people that give to you,” Magic guard Victor Oladipo said during his postgame meet-and-greet with members of the military and veterans. “It’s an honor and a privilege to have them come here and interact with them.”
The night was particularly special for U.S. Army Sgt. Bacary Sambou, who was wounded in action in 2012 by an improvised explosion device while delivering supplies in Afghanistan. Sambou sat courtside during the game, met and had conversations with Magic and Timberwolves players and was honored during an inspiring halftime presentation.
“I feel special,” Sambou said. “I joined the military to defend this country and this shows the Magic really care. It’s really great to meet the players and I know they are doing a great job.”
The Magic also hosted a military-themed Fan Fest presented by FanDuel prior to the game, which included military Humvees, a rock wall, and military simulators. Other highlights included volunteer uniformed officers distributing game programs to fans entering the Disney Atrium, a military member performing the national anthem and military-themed performances by the Magic Dancers.
“They have earned it,” Magic forward Channing Frye said. “It’s humbling. They sacrifice so much for us to be able to do what we do.”
“It is truly the Orlando Magic’s honor to recognize the brave men and women who dedicate their lives in service of our great country,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “Together with Harris Corporation, we recognize the sacrifices made by not only the men and women in uniform but their families as well. They are all heroes.”