The Orange Bowl Committee (OBC) selects honorees for upcoming Field Of Dreams Scholarship Benefit

Miami Lakes – The Orange Bowl Committee (OBC) announced its honorees for the eighth annual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Orange Bowl Field of Dreams Scholarship Presented by Publix on Friday, May 14, 2010, at the Broward County Convention Center.

Selected for their service to the community, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, community activist Alain Armand, Esq. and high school basketball coach Lorenzo Hands will be recognized at the scholarship benefit.

Jonathan Vilma, the former Coral Gables High School, University of Miami and current football standout of the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, will be awarded the Orange Bowl Keith Tribble Trailblazer Award, which honors an individual who has made a significant impact in South Florida. The award annually is presented to a groundbreaker who has helped open doors, blazed trails and prepared a way for others to have better lives.

WPLG Local 10’s Calvin Hughes will emcee the event, themed “Embracing Caribbean Culture” in recognition of the devastating January earthquake that struck Haiti. Tickets for the eighth annual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Orange Bowl Field of Dreams Scholarship Presented by Publix can be purchased by visiting www.orangebowl.org or contacting 305.341.4702. A table for 10 is $1000, while premium tables can be purchased for $1500 and individual tickets for $100.

Proceeds from the event will support the South Florida Haitian American community through educational assistance and scholarship programs as well as student-athletes in each of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties based on need, academic success and community service.

“The Orange Bowl Committee community outreach mission is to provide resources for academic and athletic youth programs,” said Antonia Williams-Gary, committee chair of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Orange Bowl Field of Dreams Scholarship Presented by Publix. “We are committed to helping local youth, particularly this year in South Florida’s Haitian American community. The honorees we will recognize on May 14 have paved the way for these future generations.”

Vilma, whose parents Fritz Vilma and Nelly Banatte immigrated to the United States from Haiti in the 1970s, attended Coral Gables Senior High School and later earned a finance degree from the University of Miami. Vilma was a three-time Academic All-Big East Conference linebacker and a first-team All-American as a senior. He was honored as a Hometown Hero and in 2006 was National United Way spokesman for NFL’s Lend a Hand campaign. Vilma was later named Board Member of the National Football Foundation’s “Play It Smart” program, designed to use football as a vehicle to foster academic, personal and career development of at-risk student athletes.

Following New Orleans’ Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Miami Gardens, Vilma traveled to his parent’s homeland in Haiti to aid in the earthquake relief efforts. Vilma has been actively raising cash via a special tee-shirt to help rebuild a country where members of his family still live while making hands-on contributions to relief efforts across the country.

“I want(ed) to go down there and help, whether it be to clear out the devastation, try to help build homes, whatever it is I want to go down and not just look around and say it’s a sad situation,” said Vilma in a New York Times interview in February. “We all know it’s a sad situation. What can I do to help the situation?”

Miami native and Southwest Senior High School graduate Andre “The Hawk” Dawson played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball for Montreal, Chicago (NL) and Boston, before finishing his career with Florida in 1995-96. Dawson won the 1987 National League Most Valuable Player Award in his first season with the Chicago Cubs when he set career highs with 49 home runs and 137 RBI. He became the first player in MLB history to win an MVP Award while playing for a last-placed team. Currently, Dawson serves as a Special Assistant to the President of the Florida Marlins. He will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer.

Fluent in Creole, French and Spanish, Alain Armand, Esq. serves as managing director of Xaragua Management, LLC in Hollywood, Fla., identifying business opportunities in Haiti’s emerging markets and managing capital investments in the country. Armand helped develop a lifestyle web site to promote Haiti by providing insight into daily life there. One of the site’s goals is to combat the negative image of Haiti among native and second-generation Haitians who have no current ties to the island nation. For more than five years, he handled under-represented Haitian immigration cases, often pro bono, and conducted interviews and fact-finding visits to support asylum cases through his law office. Armand received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC. He attended Cornell University/Universite de Paris in France, where he obtained a Certification in International Law.

Lorenzo Hands recently completed his twelfth year as the boys basketball coach at Palm Beach Lakes Community High School, his alma mater. Coach Hands has adopted a youth-centered focus that embraces the philosophy of using coaching as a tool to cultivate productive young men. He is dedicated and passionate about bringing his experiences and world of possibilities to his eager young players. Hands played on four NCAA tournament teams at Florida State University (1989-93), where he earned degrees in Marketing, Real Estate and a Masters in Athletic Administration. Hands served on the FSU coaching staff under Pat Kennedy from 1994 until he returned to his Palm Beach Lakes in 1998. Under Coach Hands’ leadership, Palm Beach Lakes has won six District Championships, made three State Playoff appearances and was the 6A State runner-up in 2004-05, when he was named 6A Coach of the Year. The following year, Hands took fifteen at-risk student-athletes to Honolulu, Hawaii to participate in a national high school basketball tournament, where the team received the Dr. Wong Sportsmanship Award.

The eighth annual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Orange Bowl Field of Dreams Scholarship Benefit Presented by Publix is scheduled for Friday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Broward County Convention Center. Orange Bowl Committee sponsors Publix, Gold Coast Beverage Distributors/Stella Artois and Sun Life Stadium join Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida in this community outreach effort. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida has been involved in all of the eight events.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida is proud of our continuing relationship with the Orange Bowl Committee,” said Penny Shaffer, Market President for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. “We take seriously our responsibility as a not-for-profit healthcare leader and support a wide variety of programs and services that enhance the lives of the people who live and work in our community.”

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