26th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to Honor Philanthropic Heroes Don Shula and Jerry Rice and the 2011 Sports Legends Ernie Els, Chris Mullin, Andre Dawson, Harry Carson, Clark Gillies, John Force and Nancy Kerrigan

Bob Costas Returns as Emcee for New York Fundraiser on Monday, September 26 to Benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

Aug 04, 2011, 16:39 ET from The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and The Buoniconti Fund

MIAMI, Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 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 Super Bowl 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 Super Bowl 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  
  • Chris Mullin, a Class of 2011 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer
  • Andre Dawson "The Hawk," one of the three Major League baseball players in history with over 400 home runs and over 300 stolen bases
  • Harry Carson, one of the greatest inside linebackers in NFL history  
  • Clark Gillies, a Hockey legend and Hall of Fame member since 2002
  • John Force, the greatest champion in the history of straight-line racing with a record 15 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Championships
  • 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 and 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 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.

"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," 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.

Tickets start at $850 per person.  Sponsorships and opportunities to sit with legends are available.  Tables and tickets can be purchased by phone at (305) 243-4656 or at www.thebuonicontifund.com/gsld. Tickets and tables purchased between today and August 15th will be entered into a drawing to win a 7-day cruise for two, in a balcony cabin on board Carnival Cruise Lines. Entries for paid tables and tickets must be received by Monday, August 15th at 5pm to be eligible to win. Payments are valid via credit card, online registration or checks received. Restrictions apply, please see below for details.

About The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and The Buoniconti Fund

In 1985, Barth A. Green, M.D. and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti helped found The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis after Nick's son, Marc, sustained a spinal cord injury during a college football game. Today, The Miami Project, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is the world's most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center and is housed in the Lois Pope LIFE Center.  The Miami Project's international team of more than 250 scientists, researchers and clinicians take innovative approaches to the challenge of spinal cord injury. Committed to finding a cure for paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury and to seeing millions worldwide walk again, the Buoniconti family established The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis in 1992, a non-profit organization devoted to assisting The Miami Project achieve its national and international goals.

Contest Regulations and Restrictions

Airfare, Government Fees/Taxes, International Departure Taxes, Fuel charges, Gratuities and Incidentals are for your own account. This cruise is non-transferable, has no cash value and is valid for one year from the date awarded. Therefore, you must take this cruise before September 1, 2012 and under no circumstances will we grant extensions. A $50 service charge will be assessed within 60 days of departure for any cruise or vacation package changes (per guest, per change). Cruise travel is subject to the terms and conditions contained in the "Cruise Ticket Contract Terms" section of Carnival's website and passenger ticket contract.

SOURCE The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and The Buoniconti Fund