MIAMI (AP) — In Alonzo Mourning’s view, the impact of having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together on the Miami Heat will go far beyond basketball. It could change lives in one of the most impoverished major cities in the country.
The 14th annual Summer Groove, the five-day series of charity events that Mourning founded and now hosts in concert with Wade, started on Wednesday, July 14 and ends on Sunday, July 18. It’s raised around $8 million for needy children in Miami – which has plenty of neighborhoods filled with people just trying to get by – and is getting a clear shot of adrenalin this year amid all the buzz of what the future could be for the Heat.
“Knowing the economics here in South Florida, it’s going to be a huge plus for so many,” Mourning said. “A lot of people are going to benefit from this in the community. From a philanthropic standpoint, we have to utilize it. We have to continue to change more lives. D-Wade and I understand the impact this could have.”
Just in the few days since James and Bosh arrived, there’s been a surge of interest in the Groove, which devotes much of its resources to educational programs for kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity to get high school diplomas or attend college. It funds youth centers and after-school programs, directed at kids in some of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods.
Wade has co-hosted with Mourning in recent years, tying it in with his Wade’s World Foundation.
“Just by being a part of it, I felt like I did something right in life,” Wade said. “The last three years have really been something great. … These kids are really what it’s all about.”
Even with Mourning and Wade having overwhelming popularity in South Florida, fundraising has been tough in a down economy. This year’s event, however, could generate more money than ever before.
“To benefit more and more lives, we have to make all the right decisions to allow that to take its course,” Mourning said. “When me and my wife created this, we really felt like the only way for us to get the things accomplished that we want in this community would be through community support. The only way to generate that is to provide opportunity.”
It started with a $1,000-per-person golf tournament Wednesday at Doral, plus includes a youth summit, comedy show, charity gala and auction, followed by the annual game that typically attracts many NBA All-Stars.
“With all the excitement going on in Miami, I think we’ve sold an extra couple tickets,” Wade deadpanned Tuesday. “I don’t know why, but I think we have.”
Wade said he considered what would happen to the Groove had he decided to leave Miami in free agency, and Mourning said it was “a blessing” that the 2006 NBA finals MVP stayed in South Florida.
“Life is about relationships. Life is about growth,” Mourning said. “By us establishing the relationships we need to grow, we see immediate results.”
The goal for this year’s Groove is to make a significant portion of what’s needed for a second youth center in South Florida. One was built several years ago in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, and Mourning estimated that the startup costs for the second facility – which would become refuge for hundreds of kids – is between $6 million and $8 million. A capital campaign is underway.
The chance to see James and Wade play before the season starts could get Mourning much closer to a groundbreaking.
“All this,” Mourning predicted, “is going to have a tremendous social impact across South Florida.”
Here is a list of the Summer Groove events:
• The Alters Law Firm Summer Groove Comedy Jam, presented by Heineken, will take place Friday, July 16 at Hard Rock Live near Hollywood, and promises an abundance of laughs with many famous faces from TV and voices from radio. The line-up includes Rickey Smiley, George Willborn, Damon Williams, Gary Owen, Red Grant, Rodney Perry and Melanie Comarcho.
• The Publix Charities Summer Groove Benefit Gala will take place on Saturday, July 17 at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. Themed “Agua y Fuego: A Sizzling Summer Night,” the evening will highlight a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner program, live auction and dancing.
• On Sunday, July 18, bring the kids to the free Block Party prior to the All-Star Game. Taking place outside the American Airlines Arena, the free party boasts great food, music, entertainment, giveaways, rides, health awareness and more.
• Last but not least, it’s South Florida’s chance to see in person some of the greatest NBA players in the league. Players from numerous NBA teams will come together in one of the most exciting charity basketball games ever as Carnival Cruise Lines presents the Summer Groove All-Star Basketball Game.
See “Old School vs. New School” players hoop it up at American Airlines Arena. The hottest game of the summer is jam-packed with entertainment, a highly-anticipated half-time show, exciting contests, and interaction with top players in the league. There will also be opportunities to win great prizes. With tickets starting at just $5, almost everyone can afford a fun time and see great NBA players in action.
For tickets to the Summer Groove events, go to www.ticketmaster.com or www.TheSummerGroove.com.
Tim Reynolds is an Associated Press writer. Daphne Taylor writes for the South Florida Times.
File Photo by Khary Bruyning. Dwyane Wade, left, and Alonzo Mourning, right, pose at a 2008 Zo’s Summer Groove event.
ON THE NET
Summer Groove: thesummergroove.com
IF YOU GO
The Summer Groove Hosted By Zo and D.Wade
Friday, July 16: Alters Law Firm Summer Groove Comedy Jam hosted by Heineken, featuring Rickey Smiley, George Willborn, Damon Williams, Gary Owen, Red Grant, Rodney Perry, Melanie Comarcho.
Address: Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way near Hollywood.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $45 to $100. Purchase tickets at Ticketmaster.com.
Saturday, July 17: The Publix Charities Summer Groove Benefit Gala will take place.
Address: Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood.
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Individual tickets, $500. A table for 10 people costs $5,000. To register, contact Samantha@AMCharities.org or call 305-476-0095, ext. 131.
Sunday, July 18: Summer Groove Block Party, AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Includes entertainment, rides, giveaways, live music, Molina Healthcare Village.
Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, July 18: Carnival Cruise Lines Summer Groove All-Star Basketball Game, featuring various NBA players.
Time: 1 to 3 p.m.
Address: American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd.
Cost: $5 to $60. To purchase tickets, call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.