The Orlando City Foundation is the charitable arm of the Orlando City Soccer Club. One of the signature fundraising events for the Foundation is the annual "Soccer and the City" event, which was held on Tuesday evening at the Church Street Exchange building in downtown Orlando. See photos from the event on the Images page.
The highlight of the evening for eager Orlando City fans was the unveiling of the 2015 road kit, which will be white with purple accents, almost a complete negative image from the home purple with white accents that we will be seeing on the pitch in the Citrus Bowl.
In addition, the fund raiser included a raffle for several wonderful prizes provided by the club and several corporate partners (including team autographed soccer balls and scarves, resort stays, a golf outing, and more) and an auction of the actual kits worn for modeling by the players tonight: Cyle Larin, Bryan Rochez, Brek Shea, Aurelian Collin, and Kaka.
The event also featured a chance to mingle and talk with players and club dignitaries as well as gourmet appetizers and cupcakes and a fashion show featuring men's and women's clothing provided by Macy's modeled by Orlando City players and runway models from a local talent agency. I had the honor to speak with several players this evening, who all expressed excitement for the opening match on Sunday with NYCFC. In addition every fan I spoke to--from others that are simple season ticket holders like myself to those involved with corporate sponsorship for the event or the club--are equally excited that the club have achieved the goal of selling out the Citrus Bowl for the opening match and share my hopes that we will see a fantastic season from the lads on the pitch.
Sadly I didn't win any of the raffle prizes, but I counted the evening a glorious fun time as I did get a chance to share some encouragement and a little dialogue with a few of the players and owners. Now I'll have to admit the models brought in to show off the women's fashion were indeed lovely and the fashions on them looked wonderful, but anyone who was there tonight would tell you that between my purple-bedecked top hat and my Taz tie, "elegant" isn't really a style that I can claim to know very well. In other words, I'm easy to please when it comes to smart and snappy dressing, and therefore others are probably better suited to comment on the sartorial aesthetics of the fashions on display. I just know they looked good to me.
As mentioned, there was an auction for the away jerseys worn by the five players who modeled them this evening. Phil Rawlins filled the role of auctioneer, and in every case the signed jerseys fetched at least $500, all of which is going to fund the mission of the Foundation. Kay Rawlins, the chairperson of the foundation, gave a brief overview of the work the Foundation is doing in the community, primarily focused on disadvantaged children in the community and using sport (specifically soccer) as a tool to promote not only greater physical health and opportunities for safe recreational activities, but also working with families of these kids to promote healthy families and living.
As each player came out to have his jersey auctioned, the bidding grew a bit more frantic and competitive until Phil brought out Kaka for the final auction of the evening. The bidding seemed to get off to a slow start at first, but then picked up as several dedicated fans engaged in a spirited battle to win the coveted jersey. In the end when two bidders had driven the price up to $3800, Kaka offered to give both bidders a signed jersey for that price; thus the auction doubled the sum raised for the captain's shirt.
Kay Rawlins and everyone involved with the Orlando City Foundation has a right to be very proud of the event. From a fan's perspective, this is another great example of how this organization is really working to connect with the community. Yes, it was a fun night for those of us who attended as fans, but more importantly it raised both funds and awareness for the fantastic work that the Orlando City Foundation is doing in the community and in the lives of the children participating in and served by the Foundation's programs. Congratulations on a great start to Kickoff Week!