Inside the 2018 Greats Sports Legend dinner with Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez and more
The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, honored an unparalleled group of Hall of Famers, Gold Medalists, World Champions and philanthropists in front of a crowd of over 1,500 supporters tonight at the New York Hilton Midtown. Of great note, millions were raised at the Fund’s 33rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner for groundbreaking spinal cord injury research.
The Great Sports Legends Dinner honored Alex Rodriguez, World Series Champion with the New York Yankees and one of the greatest professional baseball players of all-time; Ray Allen, basketball legend and two-time NBA Champion and member of the Naismith Hall of Fame;Bob Griese, member of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins and two-time Super Bowl Champion; Mike Smith, Hall of Fame jockey who recently rode Justify to the Triple Crown; Brian Boitano, Gold Medal figure skater; and Amy Purdy, the most decorated U.S. Paralympic Snowboarder and actress, author and motivational speaker.
In addition to the Sports Legends, two special awards were given: Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras, a prodigious philanthropist, top male model and one of the greatest polo players of all time, received The Buoniconti Fund’s 2018 Philanthropist Award. Chris Evert, a noted humanitarian and tennis Hall of Famer who won 18 Grand Slam Singles Championships and three Grand Slam Doubles Championships, was conferred The Buoniconti Fund’s 2018 Humanitarian Award.
The evening, presented by the Tudor Group, was hosted by NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc, chaired by Mark Dalton, and emceed by NBC Sports personality Bob Costas. The Grammy Award-winning disco and funk group KC and the Sunshine Band performed live to a raucous crowd of supporters.
The annual dinner serves to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The Miami Project, a designated Center of Excellence at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, is the world’s most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center.
An inspiring highlight of the evening came during Marc Buoniconti’s remarks, when he told the stories of three young men who were paralyzed as the result of accidents. Thanks to pioneering treatments developed by The Miami Project’s researchers, all three are walking again; in fact all three walked on the stage to a standing ovation. Miami philanthropists Alitza and Caroline Weiss were so moved by the evening that they donated an astounding $500,000 to The Buoniconti Fund.
Another surprise during the program occurred when Mr. Costas presented Miami Project Co-Founder and world renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Barth Green and Terry Buoniconti with Special Tribute Awards for their lifetime devotion to the cause and for their continuing impact in the fight to find a cure for paralysis.
“We can no longer allow people to become paralyzed and not have an answer for them. This dinner and all the support we get from this spectacular group of Legends, Honorees and supporters is the fuel and inspiration we need to Stand Up For Those Who Can’t as we strive to cure paralysis once and for all,” said Marc Buoniconti, President of The Buoniconti Fund. In fact, NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson took the stage to share his story of once being paralyzed and now, he is dedicates his time to Standing Up For Those Who Can’t!