• Back To School Bash saved, will now be held at Citrus Bowl


    ORLANDO, Fla. - The Back To School Bash that serves 8,000 students in central Florida has been saved. Channel 9 has learned the event will be moved from the Amway Center to the Citrus Bowl.

    Channel 9's Lori Brown said event organizers' concerns now are that the Citrus Bowl may not be able to handle thousands of families in the heat or rain.

    Organizers said they also aren’t allowed to use the field as part of the event and that it must take place in the locker rooms.

    But the new venue is only charging Hope Now International $5,000, saving them thousands of dollars.

    "It's not about the venue, it's always been about the children," said event organizer Michael Radka. "The great thing is it will allow us to provide immunizations, vision screenings and other screenings."

    Hope Now International's next challenge is to raise the remaining donations it needs to buy 8,000 backpacks to hold the donated supplies.

    "The biggest thing is the backpacks. They can't be out in elements," officials said.

    The event is scheduled for Aug. 10.

    Until Thursday, Hope Now International faced two battles in getting new sponsors and coming up with nearly $30,000 for the Amway.

    Brown spent Wednesday trying to learn why the city couldn’t cut the nonprofit a break since taxpayers spent more than $400 million to build the Amway.

    The city said it couldn't offer Hope Now a discounted rate, even to help city's poorest children, because the city would then be obligated to offer similar discounts to any other group that asks, including controversial organizations.

    While the citrus bowl is not ideal, the nonprofit is thankful to have it.

    Stephanie Daley is one of many parents who need the help this year for her four children.

    "Amway makes a lot of money. They should give, contribute back to the students as well," she said.

    The event, sponsored by 9 Family Connection, provides backpacks, school supplies, immunizations, dental, eye and hearing checkups and even haircuts for children.

    The city has raised the amount it's charging the group to hold the event at the Amway, asking for $30,000 this year, which is only $20,000 less than what they're charging for a major boxing bout that was announced on Tuesday.

    The city wouldn't tell Channel 9 how much other events are charged.

    "It's unacceptable that we, who have been given so much, whether it's the city or a corporation, are not doing everything we can do, especially locally for our families. This is our neighborhood, our city," said organizer Michael Radka.

    A city spokesperson said they know there is a need, and that the city is committed to ensuring that the event happens.

    "These are upcoming students. They're going to be tomorrow's future," said Daley.

    Get involved! You can sponsor a student for just $10! To DONATE: click here! 

    Visit the Back to School Bash online for more details and to see how you can volunteer at this year's event. To VOLUNTEER: click here!

    For more, visit www.hopenowinternational.org

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