BOISE, Idaho, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Stars of television, film and sport cheered Special Olympics athletes on September 6, 2007 in Boise, Idaho -- the site of the 2009 Special Olympics Games World Winter Games. The setting was the winter-themed glamorous ballroom at the Boise Centre on the Grove, where the celebration honored the inspiration and life-changing spirit exemplified by the Special Olympics movement. The gala fundraiser raised $1.5 million to benefit organizing efforts for the Games that will be held in Idaho from February 6-13, 2009. Hollywood stars Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher sent video-taped thanks to 30 Special Olympics athletes in attendance, for teaching the world that "every one of us can achieve our own personal greatness." Broadway singing sensation, Jennifer Holliday, electrified the crowd in person with her powerful voice and personal story about her kinship with those labeled "disabled." Actor/producer, Henry Winkler, co-hosted the evening with local Idahoan and former "Apprentice" star, Troy McClain. McClain, a spokesman for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games, spoke of his intellectually- disabled and deaf sister who "taught him how to hear." Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International, introduced Jim and Pirie Grossman, who brought the Games to Idaho and co-chair the local organizing committee for 2009. "This night brings our dream of hosting the world here in Idaho closer to reality. Besides being the largest sporting event ever in our state, the 2009 Games will help illuminate the Special Olympics movement," said Jim Grossman. "The Games will give Idaho a chance to truly shine. (It will) show the world what Idaho has -- its heart and its spirit." "We hope this evening helped inspire the Idaho community to step up and Be a Fan," said Shriver. "It is our hope that people will give and volunteer." Los Angeles musicians, Jimmy and Donnie Demers, performed for the crowd, singing an original anthem, "Redemption", written for the 2009 World Winter Games. There were many surprises woven through the evening, including a live telephone call from "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul who complimented the Special Olympics for its vital world-wide role. Video-taped messages from actress Judith Light emotionally told the athletes they were her "personal heroes" and actor Mark Hamill reminded the athletes to "let the force be with you." Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter told the audience that his state is proud to host the Games in 2009, welcoming international delegations with true western hospitality. Mrs. Otter, an advocate of education, noted that Idaho children will reap vast benefits from the experience, celebrating individual differences, compassion and the spirit of the Games. The highlight of the black tie gala was the entrance of the athletes who were escorted into the ballroom by local singer Nancy Roche singing "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong", and the three Special Olympics Global Messengers who shared their inspirational stories with the enthusiastic crowd.
SOURCE Special Olympics