ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic hosted 7,500 Orange County Public School students for its "Pick, Read and Roll" Reading Program at the Amway Center.
The program honored three fifth grade students from each school who showed the greatest reading improvements over the 2018-2019 school year. Those 250 students then got to interact with Magic players on the court.
"It's not secret that our children look up to professional athletes, but when they hear them talk about their favorite book as a child and what they read now, it makes an impression on our young people," said OCPS Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins.
Jenkins said 7,300 fourth graders came along to cheer on the fifth graders.
"And we wanted them to incentivize that next year," she said. "I'm going to be down on that floor."
Magic CEO Alex Martins said the players understand the strong impact they have on the students' lives.
"It's important for us to help our kids grow in our community. They are our future leaders. They are our future business people, our future teachers and our future fans. And you know, hopefully, today was a great opportunity for them to interact with the Magic and hear how important reading is for the rest of their lives," he said.
The Magic's community relations program annually impacts around 100,000 children.