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Sports Icons Troy Aikman, Clyde Drexler, Mike Piazza, Ivan Lendl and Dara Torres are Among the Elite Named 2009 'Great Sports Legends'

NEW YORK, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Sports icons and philanthropy champions will be spotlighted when they gather at the 24(th) Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner on Tuesday, October 6, at New York's Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in the famed Grand Ballroom. Bob Costas will host the prominent annual event which benefits The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, a nonprofit organization that serves as the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the world's most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center.

The 2009 Great Sports Legends include:

  • Troy Aikman - Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback. Highlights include three-time Super Bowl Champion and 1993 MVP, six-times selected to the Pro Bowl, All-Pro, College Hall of Fame inductee; current sportscaster for the Fox network; co-owner of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing team.
  • Clyde Drexler -Ten-time NBA All-Star and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and 50 Greatest NBA Players of all time; former shooting guard for the Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets; 1992 Olympic gold medal winner; current commentator for the Rockets.
  • Mike Piazza - Former catcher for the New York Mets, LA Dodgers considered the best hitting catcher of all time; twelve-time All-star; career record holder for home runs by a catcher; ten-time Silver Slugger Award winner and NL Rookie of the Year winner in 1993.
  • Ivan Lendl - Considered one of the greatest professional tennis players of all time with ten Grand Slam singles titles and 144 career tournament titles.
  • Rusty Wallace - Former NASCAR Premier Series champion, NASCAR Nationwide Series car owner; 55-time race winner (eighth best all-time career total, seventh best in NASCAR modern era); recently, ESPN and ABC Sports broadcaster.
  • Brett Hull - Known as "The Golden Brett"; a 2009 NHL Hall of Fame inductee; played 5 teams including the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars; current executive vice president of the Dallas Stars.
  • Dara Torres - Twelve-time Olympic medal winner (four gold, four silver, four bronze), five of which were in Sydney in 2000 and the First American swimmer to compete in 5 Olympics.
  • Pat Day - Hall of Fame American Jockey with 8803 career wins, four-time winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey has ridden winners of U.S. Triple Crown races nine times.
  • Chris Waddell - Paralympian and five-time gold medalist; most decorated male skier in Paralympic history, winning twelve medals over four games.
  • Stewart Rahr - President, CEO and sole owner of Kinray, the largest privately held pharmaceutical distributorship in the world, will receive the 2009 Outstanding Philanthropist Award for his tireless contributions to those less fortunate.
  • Adrienne Arsht - Chairman Emerita of TotalBank, a respected national business leader and hands-on philanthropist for many worthy causes, will receive The 2009 Buoniconti Fund Award.
  • Jack Schneider - Managing Director, Allen & Company, Chairman of The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis will receive The Barth A. Green Spirit Award.
  • Dr. Maya Angelou - Writer, dancer, African-American activist and educator.

Expected once again to sell out and raise millions of dollars for spinal cord injury research, the event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception and Buy-it-Now store which will include one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia and other illustrious items followed by a dinner where each of the Legends and Honorees accepts their award and addresses the audience.

"We continue to be awed by the presence of iconic athletes and leaders in sports and philanthropy," says NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti, founder of The Buoniconti Fund and defensive captain of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. "Once again, we have an exceptional group of honorees that represent the highest achievers in their respective fields, and we are thrilled that they will be joining us for yet another spectacular event. We are making tremendous steps towards finding a cure for spinal cord injuries and we will stay united in our efforts and keep our eye on the goal."

Over the past two decades, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored more than 250 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, to their community, worthy causes and achievements as role models. Their participation has helped raise millions for The Miami Project's spinal cord injury research programs. Legend and Honoree Alumni include Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Mickey Mantle, Wayne Gretzky, Lance Armstrong, John Elway, Helio Castroneves, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Joe DiMaggio, Dan Marino, Tommy Lee Jones, Mark Messier, Richard "Goose" Gossage, Jerry Rice, Mia Hamm and Walter Cronkite to name a few.

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 is a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and is the world's most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center. Housed in the Lois Pope LIFE Center, its global team of more than 200 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 devoted to assisting The Miami Project achieve its national and worldwide goals.

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, 212-245-6570 or online at

SOURCE The Miami Project/The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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