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The 24th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner Raises More Than $6.3 Million for the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

NEW YORK, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc hosted a full house of 1,300 guests at the 24th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner, held at the Waldorf=Astoria, to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. They were joined by sports legends, philanthropic heroes and business leaders who were all gathered to support paralysis research. The 2009 Great Sports Legend honorees were Troy Aikman, Clyde Drexler, Mike Piazza, Ivan Lendl, Rusty Wallace, Brett Hull, Dara Torres, Pat Day and Chris Waddell. Sports broadcaster Bob Costas returned as Master of Ceremonies.

Other Honorees were President, CEO and sole owner Kinray Stewart Rahr who received the 2009 Outstanding Philanthropist Award; Chairman Emerita of TotalBank, Adrienne Arsht who received The Buoniconti Fund Award; Managing Director, Allen & Company, Chairman of The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, Jack Schneider who received The Barth A. Green Spirit Award; and Writer, African-American activist and educator, Dr. Maya Angelou who received the Buoniconti Fund Humanitarian Award.

An additional highlight of the evening was a surprise pledge from an anonymous donor for $10 million to fund the human clinical trials initiative at The Miami Project.

"It's always a thrill to be in the presence of such legends and leaders in the sports and business arena. The support that we continue to receive year after year is astounding and validates the work we are doing as significant and meaningful. I look forward to when we can walk side by side with those who are paralyzed by spinal cord injury. We all know that this can happen to any one of us, which is why we need to stay focused on a finding a cure," says Nick Buoniconti, founder of The Buoniconti Fund.

The Great Sports Legends Dinner honors an All-Star roster of athletes who have been recognized for their outstanding athletic achievements and have helped raise millions of dollars for the spinal cord injury research programs at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The dinner has become known for uniting individuals from the sports, business and entertainment industries 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 NFL NY Giants Hall of Famer Harry Carson, Sportscaster from CBS Lesley Visser, Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, New York Knicks player David Lee, 1968 Olympic Long Jump Medalist Bob Beamon, 10 x Olympic Medalist in Swimming Gary Hall, Jr., Crystal Hunt and Kristen Alderman from ABC's One Life to Live, Vincent Piazza from HBO's Boardwalk Empire, Boston Celtics Hall of Famer John Havlicek, Former Knicks player John Starks, MLB Great Rusty Staub, Captain of the 1980 Miracle on Ice Team Mike Eruzione, Former Miami Dolphin Earl Morrall, NY Giants Great Brian Kelley, Former Miami Dolphin Nat Moore, Former MLB Player with the Mets and Yankees Phil Linz, Former Miami Dolphin Tommy Vigorito, Former Miami Dolphin Dick Anderson, NYC Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba, NY Jets Linebacker Greg Buttle, Former Race Car Driver Brendan Gaughan, Former Bills player Leo Hart, Former Jets players Richard Caster and Greg Murphy, and many others.

The live auction was an exciting moment with six-figure bids for several dream packages, including golfing with Jack Nicklaus and a Dream Hawaiian Vacation.

Over the course of the past twenty-three years, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored 253 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.

History: 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 the world's largest, most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center and is housed in the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The Miami Project's international team of over 200 scientists 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. 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 high levels of awareness.

Images from the 24th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner can be found at

SOURCE The Miami Project/The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

SOURCE The Miami Project/The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis
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