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Ameristar National Charity Golf Classic Raises More Than $1.1 Million for Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis and Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Event Raises $4.6 Million in Four Years

ST. CHARLES, Mo., Oct. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASCA), announced today that the fourth annual Ameristar National Charity Golf Classic, hosted by the Ameristar Cares Foundation, the Company's philanthropic arm, has raised more than $1.1 million this year to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis and The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The benefit will be held Oct. 6-7 at the Ameristar Casino Resort Spa and the Whitmoor Country Club. Scheduled to attend are former NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti and his son, Marc, who together created The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis after a college football injury left Marc Buoniconti paralyzed, and Alexandra Reeve, daughter of the late actor Christopher Reeve, who led his foundation's efforts to fund spinal cord injury research and treatment after he was paralyzed in an equestrian accident.

The event is dedicated to Craig H. Neilsen, Ameristar's late founder, whose injuries in a 1985 automobile accident left him a quadriplegic. Neilsen spent the next 21 years building Ameristar into a successful gaming and entertainment company with properties across the country. He also established and funded The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, which focuses on sponsoring innovative research for spinal cord injuries and disease, and supporting quality-of-life programs for those living with spinal cord injuries and disease. Craig Neilsen died Nov. 19, 2006.

"It means so much to me and everyone at Ameristar that my father's commitment to discovering a cure for spinal cord injuries continues in this country," said Ray Neilsen, Craig Neilsen's son, and Chairman of Ameristar Casinos, Inc., and Co-Trustee of The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

Including the more than $1.1 million raised this year, the Ameristar National Charity Golf Classic has raised about $4.6 million in its four-year history, making it one of the nation's most successful fundraising events to benefit spinal cord injury research and treatment.

"We're especially grateful for the generous support provided by the sponsors of this year's event, all of whom are key Ameristar business partners," said Gordon Kanofsky, Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of Ameristar Casinos, Inc.

This year's event to benefit two organizations

The success of the Ameristar National Charity Golf Classic has enabled the Ameristar Cares Foundation to broaden the beneficiaries of the event to include The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, in addition to The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, which had been the sole beneficiary since the event's inception in 2005.

The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis is the fundraising arm of The Miami Project, the world's largest and most comprehensive research facility dedicated to finding a cure for paralysis. The Miami Project was co-founded in 1985 by internationally recognized neurological surgeon Barth A. Green and three families who experienced spinal cord injuries firsthand, including the Buonicontis. After more than two decades of working closely with the organization, Marc Buoniconti was named president of The Miami Project in January 2008.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis. The organization originally was founded in 1982 as the American Paralysis Association. After Reeve -- an Emmy award winner and Golden Globe nominated actor who is best known for his iconic film portrayal of "Superman" -- was paralyzed in a 1995 equestrian accident, he reached out to the association and ultimately merged his own foundation with it.

Christopher Reeve passed away Oct. 10, 2004, and his wife, the actress and singer Dana Reeve, died March 6, 2006, after a brief bout with a form of lung cancer unrelated to smoking. A recent graduate of Columbia Law School, Alexandra Reeve now practices law in New York and serves on the Board of Directors of the Reeve Foundation.

Organizations spearhead cutting-edge research

Both The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis and The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation have pushed the boundaries of medical treatments by funding groundbreaking research aimed at treating and repairing spinal cord injuries.

For example, The Miami Project's research into the benefits of intravenous hypothermic treatments immediately following a spinal cord injury was used after Buffalo Bills football player Kevin Everett sustained a severe spinal cord injury during a September 2007 NFL game. Dubbed "an ice pack for the spinal cord" by The Miami Project's Dr. Green, the treatment was credited with reducing swelling and minimizing further damage to Everett's spinal column in an injury that could have left him paralyzed. He was walking again within a few months of his accident.

"The type of injury Kevin suffered is similar to the injury I sustained in 1985 that left me paralyzed," Marc Buoniconti said. "The fact that Kevin is walking again is real-life evidence of the amazing advances we've achieved. The money raised by the Ameristar National Charity Golf Classic helps fund the type of groundbreaking research that someday will allow people with serious spinal cord injuries to walk again."

Accomplishments of The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation include launching the North American Clinical Trials Network, which is charged with advancing promising laboratory therapies into clinical trials, and the NeuroRecovery Network, a group of rehabilitation centers that provide activity-based therapies to people with spinal cord injuries. In August, the foundation also expanded the work of its International Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury to focus on the study of stem cells in the repair of spinal cord injuries.

"My dad's accident introduced our family to hundreds of thousands of people who live daily with the life-altering consequences of a spinal cord injury," Alexandra Reeve said. "We're committed to not only finding a cure, but also to improving the quality of life for these individuals and their families while we work toward that cure."

About The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

Established by the Buoniconti family in 1992, The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis is a nonprofit organization committed to finding a cure for paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries and to seeing millions worldwide walk again. The Buoniconti Fund serves as the national fundraising arm of The Miami Project. It is designed to complement the scientific accomplishments of The Miami Project by generating funds and a high level of awareness. The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is the world's largest, most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center dedicated to finding more effective treatments for paralysis and, ultimately, a cure. For more information or to make a contribution, please call 800-STAND UP or visit

About The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis. For more information or to make a contribution, please call 800-225-0292 or visit

About the Ameristar Cares Foundation

The Ameristar Cares Foundation's mission is to fund medical research, including research into the treatment of spinal cord injuries and diseases; support local nonprofit organizations, including those providing physical rehabilitation services and other quality-of-life programs for those living with spinal cord injuries and disease; aid Ameristar Team Members in need; and encourage Team Member volunteerism in communities the Company serves. Ameristar Cares provides direct financial donations to a variety of organizations and coordinates a company match for donations by Team Members. In 2007, Ameristar and its Team Members donated almost $8.7 million to more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations. The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation also provides an additional match for Team Member donations made to rehabilitation facility organizations.

SOURCE Ameristar Cares Foundation
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