WESTON — Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and his Wade’s World Foundation joined a swanky Florida Memorial University gala Friday to help raise scholarship funds for students at the historically black university. “I thought I do color, but I saw a couple of outfits out there,” said Wade, who donned a crisp periwinkle suit and white oxfords with multicolored trim.
But besides the glitz and glamour of the event, held at Weston’s Bonaventure Resort & Spa, this was a party with a purpose. “Every dollar raised through this evening will go to support our students’ success,” said Roslyn Artis, the university’s interim president.
Wade, who arrived at a press conference fashionably late, spoke humbly and softly about the importance of supporting needy students and of men supporting their families.
“Any time you get an opportunity to have kids excited about education, we just make sure we support that, and support them while they’re excited to learn,” Wade said.
Wade’s 10-year-old organization caters to at-risk communities in Chicago, Milwaukee and the South Florida area through educational, health and family service programs, according to the Wade’s World Web site.
“Dwyane Wade’s participation here tonight signals a commitment to our young men, to our young people,” Artis said. “He is certainly a role model on the court and off the court.”
Wade, who is divorced from the mother of his two sons, spoke of the importance of fathers’ being involved in their children’s lives, regardless of the circumstances.
“I’m a firm advocate that men should step up to the plate and be men and raise their family, no matter what the situation is,” he told reporters.
After the press conference, Wade was escorted to an elegant cocktail reception, where a line formed immediately to take photos with Wade and Artis. But not everyone got his or her photo taken before Wade was swept off again to the banquet hall.
“Dwyane Wade is my hero,” said Charles O. Nyarko, a Miami Heat fan. “I really love seeing him.”
Nyarko, president of Nyarko Architectural Group in Miami, said he wasn’t surprised Wade is supporting Florida Memorial students, because he is engaged in the local community.
“I believe it is very important to help students who are capable but don’t have the means to go to college,” said Nyarko, who also has supported students through several scholarship galas.
Estelle Taylor, president of the Florida Memorial University alumni chapter in Orlando, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1964. Taylor went on to earn a master’s degree in elementary education at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She credits her career advances to the foundation she received at Florida Memorial.
“It just gives me joy and great pleasure to give back and offer what I have,” said Taylor, a retired elementary school educator. “You don’t have to be rich, a millionaire, to give back to people but you share what you have, because you have plenty.”