Nov. 19, 2019 – Point guard Markelle Fultz has been with the Orlando Magic less than a year, but already he’s come to admire the direction of the organization.
On the court, he thinks highly of the team’s defensive identity and is confident the pieces are in place to make major gains as the season moves forward.
Off the floor, the 21-year-old sees the impact the Magic are having in their community, and it’s something he wants to help grow, especially when it comes to the youth of Central Florida.
It’s also a treat for the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder when he gets the opportunity to meet his fans. He appreciates all of their support, especially over the last year or so as he was recovering from his injury that forced him to miss most of last season.
Fresh off his team’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies, Fultz was at the Winter Park Florida Blue location signing autographs for fans and taking pictures with them on a Saturday afternoon while promoting a great cause.
“It’s one of the biggest parts I feel like that drives me,” he said about all the fans’ support. “Not only my family, but having a strong fan base, it makes me want to work harder. Not just in basketball, but giving back to the community. Coming out and showing my face and letting them know I care about them, too.
“It’s just a blessing, truly,” he added. “Coming from where I come from, I never thought I would see somebody wearing my jersey. All the love and support, it’s a big thing. To have these fans (here), signing autographs (for them) and wanting to take pictures with me gives me motivation to keep working.”
As part of the Magic’s Baskets for Books program presented by Florida Blue, the Magic collected children’s books during Fultz’s autograph session that will be donated to the Early Learning Coalition, which provides access to high-quality early care and education services for children in the Central Florida community. They work in partnership with parents, childcare providers and community stakeholders to build a strong foundation for youth.
This is the 10th year of the Baskets for Books program, which continues to build lifelong learners. For every point the Magic score during each home game throughout the season, one book is donated to the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County. Since program inception, more than 50,000 books have been donated.
“I think it’s huge. It’s something you need in life, just to be able to read, write and everything like that,” Fultz said. “A lot of people are getting into the iPads and technology now, so I think it’s just an old-school type of thing just to make sure you are on top of.”
Over the summer, the Magic and Florida Blue participated in various events to help encourage more children to read. One of them was the Orlando Public Library’s Summer Reading Celebration, where students won prizes, including Magic tickets, after submitting book reviews.
“We are honored to partner with the Orlando Magic on this amazing program,” said Tanya Easterling, Director of Business Development for Florida Blue. “Literacy is one of Florida Blue’s focus areas to help drive healthy outcomes in our local community. People who lack literacy and health literacy skills are much more likely to take medications incorrectly, be hospitalized, and spend more time in the hospital than people with higher health literacy. Family literacy programs can play an important role in helping people to acquire these skills.
“Florida Blue’s mission is to help people and communities achieve better health. By partnering with the Orlando Magic, we are reaching more Floridians and positively impacting their health and well-being.”