26th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to Honor Heroes

Bob Costas Returns as Emcee for New York Fundraiser on Monday, September 26

August 2015 — The 26th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner will be held at New York’s Waldorf=Astoria Hotel on Monday, September 26. The event will honor philanthropic heroes and sports legends while bringing together celebrities and corporate leaders to support the fundraising efforts of Nick and Marc Buoniconti and numerous longtime Buoniconti Fund supporters who continue to stand up for those who can’t.

The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis is a nonprofit, which serves as the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine founded by Dr. Barth Green whose mission is to help millions worldwide walk again.

Last year, the Great Sports Legends Dinner drew a crowd of 1,400 raising an unprecedented $17 million during the evening. Since it was created in 1985, the event has honored more than 275 sports legends and honorees and raised more than $65 million for The Miami Project’s spinal cord injury research programs.

This year, The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis will pay tribute to two of the greatest philanthropic heroes and legendary sports figures of all time. Don Shula, the former Miami Dolphins coach who holds the NFL record for most career wins, leading the team to two Superbowl victories and the only perfect season in the National Football League, will receive The 2011 Buoniconti Fund Award. Jerry Rice, considered the greatest wide receiver to ever play professional football, with three Superbowl victory rings, will be honored with the Humanitarian Award.

Bob Costas returns as the Master of Ceremonies for the fourth year in a row to honor the 2011 Great Sports Legends:

• Ernie Els, one of the top professional golfers in the world and recently elected to the 2011 class of the World Golf Hall of Fame

• Chris Mullin, a Class of 2011 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, named Big East Player of the Year an unprecedented three times and winner of two Olympic gold medals

• Andre Dawson “The Hawk,” one of the three Major League baseball players in history with over 400 home runs and over 300 stolen bases, inducted into the Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010

• Harry Carson, one of the greatest inside linebackers in NFL history and inducted as the 231st member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

• Clark Gillies, a Hockey legend and Hall of Fame member since 2002, who led Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cups, thanks in large part to coring 94 points in 164 playoff games

• John Force, the greatest champion in the history of straight-line racing with a record 15 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Championships and a 2008 inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Detroit

• Nancy Kerrigan, U.S. figure skating champion, and two-time Olympic and two-time World Championship medalist

Expected once again to sell out and raise millions of dollars for spinal cord injury research, the event begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be held in the famed Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria.  The star-studded evening will begin with cocktails, the Tiffany & Co.’s Mystery Blue Box Wall and a Buy It Now Store where attendees can purchase one of a kind sports memorabilia, amazing jewelry, unique kids toys and stuffed animals and other exclusive items. The dinner program with entertainment from legendary musicians and a live auction boasting jewelry, travel and entertainment experiences and sports and music memorabilia and the evening’s honorees will follow. United Airlines is the exclusive airline of the Great Sports Legends Dinner.

“The Miami Project’s spinal cord injury research programs have become the driving force to help save and improve the lives of paralyzed people. In the past year, tremendous gains have been made and we are confident that we are on the cusp of a cure thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our researchers and the unending encouragement and financial backing of our supporters,” said Nicholas A. Buoniconti, Co-Founder of The Buoniconti Fund and The Miami Project. “Over the last 26 years, we have assembled Great Sports Legends, Honorees, and Dinner attendees in New York to help us raise funds to support our research. It is an honor and a pleasure to have such a wonderful line-up of sports legends and supporters this year, as we get closer than ever to finding the cure to paralysis.”

Our “Legend Alumni” and Honorees include: Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Andre Agassi, Jack Nicklaus, Tony Hawk, Cal Ripken, Jr., Gloria Estefan, Magic Johnson, Dr. Maya Angelou, Mia Hamm, Tommy Lee Jones, Wayne Gretzky, Charles Barkley, George Foreman, Dara Torres, Julio Iglesias, Helio Castroneves, Troy Aikman, Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Mike Piazza, Julius Erving, Walter Cronkite, Gabrielle Reece, Pat Riley, Kelly Slater, Willie Mays, Bill Russell, Michael Irvin, Barbara and Jack Nicklaus, Dan Marino, Tom Brokaw, Christine E. Lynn,  and many other athletes and heroes who recognize that paralyzing injuries can and do occur in the pursuit of athletic careers and everyday lives.