Zo’s Summer Groove Celebrates 15th Anniversary Next Month

Former Miami Heat superstar and community philanthropist Alonzo Mourning and his wife Tracy are giving back to the community once more with the 15th anniversary celebration of “Zo’s Summer Groove” next month.

The three-day extravaganza taking place July 22-24 includes a golf classic, comedy show benefit gala, block party and closing party to benefit Alonzo Mourning Charities.

Since it was founded in 1997, the couple’s not-for-profit has raised more than $7 million for the development of South Florida children and their families.

This year, funds from “Zo’s Summer Groove” will benefit the Overtown Youth Center, a program that takes a holistic approach to youth development in the neighborhood of Overtown, and also Honey Shine Mentoring, an initiative founded by Tracy Mourning aimed at empowering young women through bi-weekly workshops and summer camps.

More than $10 million has been raised by the annual event, whose benefits Mourning consider crucial in helping guide the lives of hundreds of local youths.

“We were all young once,” Alonzo Mourning said. “We wouldn’t be here without the contributions of others.

“All kids have the ability, but not all have the resources. We want to mold kids into positive, contributing citizens.”

At this year’s Summer Groove, Mourning will introduce his new campaign, Sponsor-A-Student Funds, which will support two programs and give at-risk students the opportunity to take part in after-school and weekend tutoring, and health and wellness programs. “Only 50 percent of kids in the area are able to pass the FCAT and graduate from high school,” Mourning said.

He is also asking individual and corporate donors to contribute $4,800-a-year for three years to subsidize the $1.8 million of the Overtown Youth Center, where 100 percent of the kids graduate and go to college.

Students admitted into the Overtown Youth Center are chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Teachers from surrounding high schools select those who demonstrate a need for more personalized attention. The youth center is currently at full capacity.

DeBorah Breedlove has been an active participant at the Overtown Youth Center since the ninth grade. A graduate of Booker T. Washington Senior High School, Breedlove is now president of Help Every Last Person, an organization funded by Alonzo Mourning Charities that is dedicated to providing hygienic products for the homeless and feeding the hungry.

“The Overtown Youth Center gave me the opportunity to give back to the community what it has given to me,” Breedlove said. “I feel as though [this program] should be everywhere, not just Miami.”

Among the biggest supporters of “Zo’s Summer Groove’’ is the Seminole Hard Rock, which will host the event. Other supporting sponsors include Publix Super Markets, Heineken, Pepsi Co. and Carnival Cruise Lines.

“He is an incredible asset to the community,” said Ana Lanzas, spokeswoman for Seminole Hard Rock. “We are happy to help him in his contributions to the community’s youth.”

Returning events such as the Sports Conference, Basketball Clinics and Youth Empowerment Summit cater to the very beneficiaries of “The Groove.”

Student groups invited to participate in the Sports Conference and Basketball Clinics will be able to learn the fundamentals of the sport and interact with professional athletes. Those attending the Youth Empowerment Summit will hear featured speakers discuss key issues prevalent in everyday life.

Guest stars and performers attending the Comedy Show and Benefit Gala include musicians Robin Thicke and Trey Songz, comedians D.L. Hughley and Mike Epps, and 14-time Grammy award winner Alicia Keys as the headliner.

The two nights of performances will be open to the public through a general admission sale.

For tickets, visit the Hard Rock Live box office or go online to www.ticketmaster.com.

Fernando Larez

Fernando is an entrepreneur, technologist and proud dad. He is an author at the Beat.

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