Wade County: The Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade

His appreciation for his fans continues, especially being that his fans continue to appreciate Wade, despite his uncertainty with the Heat. The Miami Heat’s latest campaign, “We Want Wade,” is designed to give those fans not only a way to continue to virtually interact with the superstar through emails, tweets, and video uploads (some of which Wade answers with uploads of his own) but also some handy protocols about how to participate in the campaign, should they be lucky enough to spot Wade at one of South Florida’s hot spots. (Do: chant “We want Wade” or send a dessert to his table; don’t ask for an autograph, photo, date, money, or one of his cars, or show him your D. Wade tattoo. Or get one for that matter.) “The outpouring makes me feel warm,” he said when we caught up with him late May to discuss the summer lineup for the Wade’s World Foundation and his free-agent status. “I thought it was a laugh, I thought it was funny. Then I went to the site and read the criteria and what the fans were saying about the We Want Wade campaign.” He says that fans are taking the protocols to heart. ““I’ve been getting the nicest messages about why fans want me to stay. Also, Florida is known for its oranges, so people have been sending me oranges—things like that to make me remember South Florida wherever I go. It makes me feel welcome, knowing the city is behind me through thick and thin. I appreciate the Heat and the fans’ support for that.”

The Miami Herald reported that the Heat will offer Wade a six-year, $125 million contract just after midnight on July 1, and no other team could offer Wade a contract for more years or money. With this in mind, the “We Want Wade” campaign upped its ante in early June, putting up a billboard along the 79th Street Causeway near Wade’s home that he is all but guaranteed to see. Dubbed “Sign Here,” the billboard features a blown-up contract with the dotted line, complete with Wade’s name underneath, left blank. (Hopes are that when he does sign the contract, he will then also put his John Hancock on the billboard.)

While Wade is expected to make his formal announcement in July, even if—God forbid—he does choose to play for a different team, his positive impact will still be felt throughout Miami this summer. First, he will once again team up with former Heat teammate Alonzo Mourning for The Summer Groove Hosted by Zo + D. Wade. This marks the third time that Wade has participated in the fundraising event, which is in its 14th year. It provides the NBA legends an opportunity “to go out and touch a community that really supports us. It’s really important to reach out to the kids,” Wade says. From July 14 to 18, thousands will gather at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, for a fundraising event that will support both Alonzo Mourning Charities and Wade’s World Foundation. The four-day itinerary is chock-full of events like a golf tournament at Doral Golf Resort & Spa, the ZSG Youth Basketball Clinic, a comedy jam, and a charity gala. But Wade feels like the highlight of the weekend is the Youth Empowerment Summit, held at Miami Jackson Sr. High School. “We sit down on Saturday morning for a panel and one-on-one sessions with the young men and women,” he explains. “We’re able to help them with whatever they’re going through by sharing our own life experiences, and that’s the most impactful part of the weekend for me.” Because Wade realizes that life is more than just basketball, he and Mourning ask celebrities, community leaders, business professionals, coaches, and peers to join in the panel discussions. The topic for the 2010 summit is “Violence,” and participants will explore its various levels and discuss how it impacts their lives.