21st Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner


September 2006 — Leaders from the world of sports, entertainment and business gathered together to help break a major fundraising record at the 21st Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund. More than 1,300 guests marveled as Nick Buoniconti announced that on this historic night in September, the dinner raised $4.5 million dollars for paralysis research. “I am simply humbled and in awe by the continued support of so many individuals and corporations who are committed to seeing Marc and millions of paralyzed individuals walk again,” said Buoniconti.

This year’s event broke the world’s record for the most money ever raised in one evening for spinal cord injury research. The Louis F. and Virginia C. Bantle Charitable Foundation and an anonymous donor were so moved during the event, they donated an additional $500,000 each to help us reach the $4.5 million for paralysis research.

For the past twenty-one years, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored athletes and individuals whose achievements have set a new standard for what can be accomplished by the human spirit. As Honoree Beverly Kearney said, “I have the mentality that failure is not an option for me. Like The Miami Project, no one could have ever envisioned where it is. But it is, because one man had the courage to stand up and say I don’t like what is, so I am going to create what can be.”

“The Miami Project and The Buoniconti Fund’s success has been achieved by every person who has supported us,” said Marc Buoniconti. “I especially want to thank our Board of Directors and Dinner Chairman Mark Dalton because without them, this event would never have happened.”

The 2006 Sports Legends honored were: Lance Armstrong, Patrick Ewing, Emmitt Smith, Wade Boggs, Michael Irvin, Dean Smith, Tony Hawk, John Vanbiesbrouck, Michael Chang and Beverly Kearney. Michael Irvin accepted his Legend medal and one on behalf of his former teammate Emmitt Smith to go along with their Super Bowl rings. Smith was unable to attend the dinner because of his live appearence on the TV show, Dancing with the Stars. That evening, Smith announced on air that he was dancing for The Buoniconti Fund and part of the proceeds will go to the cause.

Desert Storm Military Commander General H. Norman Schwarzkopf was recognized as the Great American Icon. The Chambers Family received The Buoniconti Fund Humanitarian Award and Ameristar Casinos Chairman and CEO Craig H. Neilsen was honored as this year’s Outstanding Business Leader. Tom Brokaw made the evening a hit as the Master of Ceremonies for the fifth year in a row.