24th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner a “GREAT” Success

Annual Dinner Hosted Full House

OCTOBER 2009 – Master of Ceremonies Bob Costas Joined Legends Troy Aikman, Clyde Drexler, Mike Piazza, Ivan Lendl, Rusty Wallace, Brett Hull, Dara Torres, Pat Day, Chris Waddell Who Were All In Attendance and Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Made a Special Appearance

NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc again welcomed a full house of 1,300 guests at the 24th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner at New York City’s famed Waldorf Astoria, all to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis which is housed in the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.  They were joined byan amazing array ofsports legends, philanthropic heroes and business leaders who were all gathered to support paralysis research.  The 2009 Great Sports Legend honorees, who pledged their support of Nick, Marc and their dream of finding a cure for paralysis, were Troy Aikman, Clyde Drexler, Mike Piazza, Ivan Lendl, Rusty Wallace, Brett Hull, Dara Torres, Pat Day and Chris Waddell.   Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin made a special appearance and saluted the sold out crowd which brought the house down.  Sports broadcaster Bob Costas returned as Master of Ceremonies and engaged everyone with his wit and up to the moment baseball scores.

Marc Buoniconti personally honored Stewart Rahr, President and CEO of Kinray with the 2009 Outstanding Philanthropist Award; Adrienne Arsht, Chairman Emerita of TotalBank,who received The Buoniconti Fund Award; Jack Schneider, Managing Director, Allen & Company,Chairman of The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, who received The Barth A. Green M.D. Spirit Award; andWriter, African-American activist and educator, Dr. Maya Angelou who received the Buoniconti Fund Humanitarian Award. An additional highlight of the evening was a surprise pledge from an anonymous donor to fund the human clinical trials initiative at The Miami Project.

“It’s always a thrill to be in the presence of such legends and leaders in the sports and business arena. The support that we continue to receive year after year is astounding and validates the work we are doing as significant and meaningful. I look forward to when we can walk side by side with those who are paralyzed by spinal cord injury. We all know that this can happen to any one of us, which is why we need to stay focused on a finding a cure,” says Nick Buoniconti, founder of The Buoniconti Fund.

The Great Sports Legends Dinner honors an All-Star roster of athletes who have been recognized for their outstanding athletic achievements and have helped raise millions of dollars for the spinal cord injury research programs at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The dinner has become known for uniting individuals from the sports, business and entertainment industries and this year’s event was again a sell out with the capacity crowd enjoying a moving and inspirational program.

Other notables in attendance included NFL NY Giants Hall of Famer Harry Carson, Sportscaster from CBS Lesley Visser, Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, New York Knicks player David Lee, 1968 Olympic Long Jump Medalist Bob Beamon, 10 x Olympic Medalist in Swimming Gary Hall, Jr, Crystal Hunt and Kristen Alderman from ABC’s One Life to Live, Vincent Piazza from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Boston Celtics Hall of Famer John Havlicek, Former Knicks player John Starks, MLB Great Rusty Staub, Captain of the 1980 Miracle on Ice Team Mike Eruzione, Former Miami Dolphin Earl Morrall, NY Giants Great Brian Kelley, Former Miami Dolphin Nat Moore, Former MLB Player with the Mets and Yankees Phil Linz, Former Miami Dolphin Tommy Vigorito, Former Miami Dolphin Dick Anderson, Former Heat Guard Tim Hardaway, NYC Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba, NY Jets Linebacker Greg Buttle, Former Race Car Driver Brendan Gaughan, Former Bills player Leo Hart, Former Jets players Richard Caster and Greg Murphy and many others.

The live auction was an exciting moment with six-figure bids for several dream packages, including golfing with Jack Nicklaus and a Dream Hawaiian Vacation. We are thrilled that Vehicle Production Group (VPG) was the sponsor of the VIP Legends Reception. Of special importance was the announcement of a new partnership between The Buoniconti Fund and VPG who donated a new MV-1, the world’s first mobility vehicle, designed and built from the ground up to meet the transportation needs of people with disabilities.   Thanks to our Dinner Chair Mark Dalton and our Buoniconti Fund Board of Directors who purchased this car to be donated to a spinal cord injured individual in need of transportation. VPG also committed to making a contribution for each personal vehicle sold to The Buoniconti Fund and other organizations in the disabled community.

Another highlight was the Tiffany & Co. Chances for a Cure Wall where benefactors purchased the famous blue boxes and took home wonderful gifts while helping the cause. A special thank you to Continental Airlines for their Legends and Championship sponsorship.  We truly appreciate their support over the years and for flying in our Legends for this event.

Over the course of the past twenty-three years, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored more than 270 of the world’s greatest athletes and individuals. They are recognized for their contributions to the world of sports and acknowledged for their commitment to high ethical standards, dedication to their community, worthy causes and achievements as positive role models.