Sports Legends Dinner Raises $18M for Paralysis Research

The 27th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner was held at the New York Waldorf Astoria and brought celebrity greats like Shaquille O’Neal, Danny Glover, Bob Costas, Alonzo Mourning, Marshall Faulk, Laila Ali, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Wendy Williams, and others out to raise paralysis research funds to help Stand Up for Those Who Can’t.

The celebrities gathered to help NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc pay tribute to philanthropic heroes and raise nearly $18 million to help cure paralysis, including a live auction that allowed some of the 1,400 guests the ability to bid on exclusive items such as luxury travel packages, jewelry and a chance to golf with Jack Nicklaus.

Bob Costas of NBC Sports returned to be the master of ceremonies for the event. Shaq, Jose Torre, Marshall Faulk, Tony Perez, Mark Martin, Lisa Leslie, Jake LaMotta and Lorena Ochoa were honored as the 2012 Great Sports Legends. The Buoniconti Fund Award went to NBA Champion Alonzo Mourning, and the Outstanding Business Leader Award went to Emilio Estefan.

“We are extremely honored to have so many legendary athletes, celebrities, corporate leaders and other influential figures on our side when it comes to raising awareness and funds to support finding a cure for paralysis,” says Nick Buoniconti, Founder of the Buoniconti Fund.

“Not only within the realm of sports do we see spinal cord injuries. Millions of people worldwide have suffered spinal cord injuries, leading to paralysis. Our biggest hope through the Buoniconti Fund and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis is that soon we will make medical history by finding a cure for paralysis.”

The money raised will be added to a $40 million pledge the University of Miami’s Momentum2 campaign has made. Momemetum2 hopes to raise $1.6 billion by 2016.

“For twenty seven years, our researchers at the Miami Project have made great discoveries and significant strides, resulting from the funds raised each year at the Great Sports Legends Dinner,” adds Buoniconti.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the compassion and support for this cause which is so meaningful to my family and me. Through this event and the efforts of the organization, our researchers now have the means to conduct the first-ever, FDA-approved, human clinical trial using the patient’s own Schwann cells–paving the way to find a cure for paralysis.”

The 27th Annual Great Sports Legend Dinner was sponsored by Diageo, United Airlines, HBO Sports, Tiffany & Co., and Barton G.


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