25th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner Presented by Stewart Rahr, Draws Spectacular Crowd and Raises More Than $16 Million for the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

President Clinton, Bob Costas, Gloria Estefan, Willie Mays, Bill Russell, Michael Irvin, Annika Sorenstam, Brian Leetch, Dan Marino, Jack & Barbara Nicklaus, Tom Brokaw, Ignacio "Nacho" Figueras, Laird Hamilton and Russell Simmons Were All In Attendance

Evening Included Performances by Donna Summer and The Pointer Sisters

Sep 28, 2010, 03:44 ET from The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

NEW YORK, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Former President Bill Clinton joined NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc as they hosted an impressive crowd of more than 1,400 guests for the 25th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner, held at the Waldorf=Astoria, to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis.  The silver anniversary celebration raised more than $16 million and guests included sports legends, celebrities, philanthropic heroes and corporate leaders who all gathered to support paralysis and spinal cord injury research.  The 2010 Great Sports Legends were Willie Mays, Bill Russell, Michael Irvin, Ignacio "Nacho" Figueras, Annika Sorenstam, Brian Leetch, Laird Hamilton and Calvin Borel.  Sports broadcaster Bob Costas returned as Master of Ceremonies.

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Stewart Rahr, was the presenting sponsor of the evening. Other Honorees were Barbara and Jack Nicklaus who received the 2010 Inspiration Award; Dan Marino was presented with the 2010 Buoniconti Fund Award; Tom Brokaw received the 2010 American Icon Award;  Christine E. Lynn, received the 2010 Outstanding Philanthropist Award.  

"To be surrounded by this much compassion and support for a cause that is so meaningful to me and my family, is truly overwhelming.  For twenty-five years our researchers have made discoveries and strides, and now we are happy to move that work into humans with our upcoming clinical trials.  Our researchers are changing the way the medical profession looks at and treats paralysis," said Nick Buoniconti, founder of The Buoniconti Fund.

The Great Sports Legends Dinner annually honors and recognizes exceptional athletes whose achievements and personal commitments to this cause have helped raise millions of dollars for the spinal cord injury research programs at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.  This annual event has become known for uniting individuals from sports, business and entertainment and this year's event was again a sell out with the capacity crowd enjoying a moving and inspirational program.

Other notables in attendance included Donald Trump, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Olympian Skater Dorothy Hamill, NFL NY Giants Hall of Famer Harry Carson, CBS Sportscaster Lesley Visser, Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, 10 x Olympic Medalist in Swimming Gary Hall, Jr., 1968 Olympic Long Jump Medalist Bob Beamon, MLB Great Scott Erickson, Former Miami Dolphin Earl Morrall, actress and model Christie Brinkley,  Former Miami Dolphin Nat Moore, Superbowl MVP with the Redskins Mark Rypien, Former MLB Player with the Mets and Yankees Phil Linz, Former Miami Dolphin Superbowl Champion Dick Anderson, …and so many others.

Supporting sponsors for the evening included Continental Airlines, Carnival Corporation & plc., Tiffany & Co., and the Vehicle Production Group, responsible for the MV-1, the first vehicle designed specifically for wheelchair accessibility.

The live auction was an exciting moment in the evening when bidding was fast and furious for such items as a private plane trip with 50 yard line tickets to a 2011 Notre Dame game, a chance to play golf with Jack Nicklaus, an Ultimate New York Sports package that included Yankees 2011 Opening day tickets and premium seats to Knicks games and the US Open.

Over the course of the past twenty-five years, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored 274 of the world's greatest athletes and individuals. They are recognized for their contributions to the world of sports and acknowledged for their commitment to high ethical standards, dedication to their community, worthy causes and achievements as positive role models.

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 as a non-profit organization devoted to assisting The Miami Project achieve its national and international goals.

For more information on The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis go www.thebuonicontifund.com

Images from the 25th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner can be found at www.gettyimages.com

SOURCE The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis