27th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner Raises Nearly $18 Million

Shaquille O’Neal, Danny Glover, Bob Costas, Alonzo Mourning, Marshall Faulk and others joined forces to “Stand Up” to Paralysis at the 27th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner

September 25, 2012 – Celebrities, sports legends, corporate leaders and more, joined NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc, as they hosted an inspiring, sold-out crowd of more than 1400 guests, in celebration of the 27th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner. Held at New York’s famed Waldorf=Astoria, the dinner paid tribute to philanthropic heroes and sports icons that inspire and motivate those affected by spinal cord injuries and raised nearly $18 million. Once again hosted by NBC sports icon Bob Costas, the event assembled notable and influential figures to support the efforts of The Buoniconti Fund and honor this year’s Great Sports Legends: Shaquille O’Neal, Joe Torre, Marshall Faulk, Tony Perez, Mark Martin, Lisa Leslie, Jake LaMotta and Lorena Ochoa.

Famed NBA Player and NBA Championship Winner, Alonzo Mourning, was presented with The Buoniconti Fund Award and Grammy Winning Musician and Producer, Emilio Estefan, was honored with The Outstanding Business Leader Award.

“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,” said Nick Buoniconti, founder of The Buoniconti Fund. “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.”

Since its inception in 1985, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored more than 283 sports legends and honorees, uniting individuals in the sports, business and entertainment worlds. To date, the annual event has raised nearly $93 million for The Miami Project’s spinal cord industry research programs.

Other notables in attendance included: actor Danny Glover, NBA legend Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier, boxer Laila Ali, Olympian Jordan Burroughs, talk show host Wendy Williams, Olympian Bonnie Blair, Brad Leland from Friday Night Lights, Olympian Gary Hall, Jr., NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson, Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, 1980 Miracle on Ice Team Captain Mike Eruzione, NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry, Actor Dean Winters, and many more.

The annual live auction, which raises additional funds for the organization, offered an exciting opportunity to secure exclusive items, such as the opportunity to golf with the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia, dazzling jewelry, impressive travel packages and more.

Sponsors for the evening included Diageo, United Airlines, HBO Sports, Tiffany & Co. and Barton G.