29th Great Sports Legends Dinner Huge Success for Buoniconti Fund To Cure Paralysis

Celebrities, sports legends, corporate leaders and more joined NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti, his son Marc, and event Chair Mark Dalton as they hosted a sold-out crowd in celebration of the 29th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner presented by Carnival Corporation & PLC and the Carnival Foundation. Held at New York’s famed Waldorf Astoria on September 29, the dinner paid tribute to philanthropic heroes and sports icons who inspire and motivate those affected by spinal cord injuries, and raised important funds for research and the Human Clinical Trials Initiative at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Tom Brokaw of NBC News served as Master of Ceremonies of the dinner not only to support the efforts of The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, but also to honor this year’s Great Sports Legends: Hakeem Olajuwon, Warren Sapp, Pedro Martinez, Joe Sakic, Bill Cowher, Mary Lou Retton and Lauryn Williams. Music legend Smokey Robinson treated guests to a special performance.

Professional Golfer Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant patient who finished runner-up at the 2014 U.S. Open Championships, was the 2014 Inspiration Award recipient. Seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill and retired NFL Pro-Bowl running back Calvin Hill each received the 2014 Buoniconti Fund Award. Bill Simon, former President and CEO of Walmart U.S., received The Buoniconti Fund’s Outstanding Business Leader Award.

“We are changing medical history with five FDA-approved clinical trials, including a revolutionary Phase 1 clinical trial transplanting human Schwann Cells to treat patients with recent spinal cord injuries,” said Nick Buoniconti, Founder of The Buoniconti Fund. “The Miami Project has not let hard work stand in its way to find a cure. This ongoing, groundbreaking work could not have happened without the funds raised each year at the annual Great Sports Legends Dinner. The continued passionate support for The Buoniconti Fund and The Miami Project means a great deal to our mission to find a cure for paralysis.”

The annual event benefits The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis and raises funds to support the cutting-edge spinal cord injury research done by researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Since its inception in 1985, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored more than 300 sports legends and honorees and has raised more than $100 million for The Miami Project’s spinal cord injury research programs. The funds raised at this year’s event support Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.

Additional notables in attendance included Grammy-winning producer and musician Emilio Estefan, seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Gloria Estefan, actor Christian Slater (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Interview with the Vampire), five-time Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Nadia Comăneci, Olympic medal-winning swimmer Gary Hall, Jr., Friday Night Lights’ Brad Leland, NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson, NHL Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, former New York Giants linebacker Brian Kelly, actor Colin Egglesfield (Something Borrowed, The Client List) and many more.

Sponsors for the evening were Carnival Corporation & PLC and the Carnival Foundation, Tiffany & Co., HBO Sports, Barton G. and Diageo.

For more information about The Buoniconti Fund, please visit, Facebook, or Twitter.

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