The Return of the Denny’s Orange Blossom Classic Produces a Positive Impact

JSU Deion Sanders, Orange Blossom Classic Committee Executive Director Kendra Bulluck-Major, FAMU Coach Willie Simmons. Photo by Ernest Nelfrard
JSU Deion Sanders, Orange Blossom Classic Committee Executive Director Kendra Bulluck-Major, FAMU Coach Willie Simmons. Photo by Ernest Nelfrard

 The Return of the Denny’s Orange Blossom Classic Produces a Positive Impact

MIAMI, PRNewswire -- Nearly 40,000 fans congregated at Hard Rock Stadium for the sophomore return of Denny’s Orange Blossom Classic, Presented by Ready Life (DOBC), Sunday, Sept. 4, for the much-anticipated rematch between HBCU powerhouses Florida A&M (FAMU) and Jackson State University (JSU).

The weekend of events forecasted to exceed the $12 million mark set in 2022 with more than 70% benefiting small and minority-owned businesses. With multiple events held throughout Labor Day weekend,
attendees descended upon South Florida for a weekend of events focused on community, education, empowerment, and family fun.

Thousands of fans, alums, HBCU students, and sports enthusiasts arrived in South Florida to experience the action both on and off the field, the four-day weekend kick-offed with HBCU Music Mogul Cortez Bryant hosting the annual OBC Golf Tournament, a fundraising event for both participating universities.

The events continued into Friday with the Allstate Careers in Sports and Entertainment Symposium presented by Coors Light, which brought together leading minds in the Sport Industry together on the campus of St. Thomas University for an event focused both on career elevation and
collaboration. The growth and networking opportunities for students and industry leaders alike continued during the Amazon Career Recruitment Fair hosted by Career Source, which provided career prospects from Molson Coors, Riddell, NFL Films, DuCon, Onyx Financial, Balfour Beaty, Ready Life, Allstate, Denny’s, Baptist Health and AT&T.

The Greater Miami Convention Visitors Bureau Commissioner’s Welcome Reception and Luncheon presented by Florida Power and Light celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Year of the Woman, honoring exceptional HBCU alumnae in Sports, Politics, and Entertainment and providing a pivotal opportunity to reach further fundraising goals for the Orange
Blossom Classic scholarship fund.

Notwithstanding the unique hardships both schools faced heading into the weekend, the teams arrived in South Florida with a clear focus. It showed as student-athletes Shedeur Sanders, Devonta Davis from JSU, and Nadarius Fagan, Xavier Smith from FAMU, joined by their Coaches Deion Sanders and Willie Simmons for the pregame press conference moderated by Don Jackson at the Hard Rock Stadium.

While the players focused on the big game, the Orange Blossom Classic Committee delivered on its pillar of community impact, orchestrating a bottled water donation drive. With the generous support of South Florida residents heading the call to action, lining up Saturday morning to drop off over 2,000 cases of bottled water for Jackson, Mississippi residents.

On the eve of the football game, nearly 6,000 fans gathered at the University of Miami Watsco Center for a magnificent showcase of talent from high school bands from the tri-county area and a preview of the mighty FAMU Marching 100 and the Jackson State Sonic Boom during the AEA Battle of the Bands.

“Thank you for making this year’s Denny’s Orange Blossom Classic Presented by Ready Life more than just a game through the support of teams, fans, our partners, and sponsors; we’re afforded the opportunity
once again to positively impact our communities, share and showcase both culture and tradition of HBCUs while tangibly supporting infrastructure, academics, and athletics in innovative ways,” stated Kendra Bulluck- Major Executive Director of the Orange Blossom
Classic Committee.

Throughout the weekend, the Orange Blossom Committee and partners consistently focused on HBCU tradition, athletics, and academics, raising
scholarship funds for students interested in pursuing post-secondary education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Sponsors of this year’s DOBC committed more than $100,000 in donations to help
level the playing field. Check presentations during the game included $10,000 from Lowes, $25,000 from Truist, $5,000 from Coors, $50,000 from Wells Fargo, and $10,000 from Denny’s.

Former Rattler Congressman Al Lawson and Jackson State alumni Congressman Benni Thompson were honorary captains for this year’s game. Jackson State Tigers came away with another victory, leaving the on-field rivalry to continue.

The weekend of events featured appearances from notables such as Grammy award winner Ledisi, Rashan Ali, Roy Wood Jr, Cultural Advisor Wallo, Congresswoman Fredricka Wilson, State Representative Felicia Robinson, Edgerrin James, U.S. Senator Val Demings, Bravo reality TV star Phaedra Parks, Cortez Bryant, NFL pro bowl Chad Johnson, AJ Calloway recording artists Uncle Luke, Ballgreezy, Fredo
Bang, and Gillie da King.

Sponsors of this year’s Orange Blossom Classic included Denny’s, Ready Life, Miami-Dade County, FPL, Celsius, Orange Bowl, Cricket, FSF, Miami Gardens, SGWS, Greater Miami Conventions Visitor Bureau, Pepsi, Visit Lauderdale, Lowe’s, Wells Fargo, AEA, GT Law, Tobacco Free, Bacardi,
AARP, and Amazon.

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