Sports luminaries and philanthropy icons will be recognized when they gather at the 23rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner on Monday, September 22, at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Bob Costas has been named the Master of Ceremonies for the event which will benefit the Buoniconti Fund To Cure Paralysis, a nonprofit organization that serves as the national fundraising arm of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis – the world’s largest, most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center.

This spectacular annual event is expected to sell out to over 1,300 guests and raise millions of dollars for spinal cord injury research. The event begins at 6:00 p.m. with a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by dinner, which will include a live auction of one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia and other unique items.

“Each year we are honored by the presence of the most elite athletes in sports,” says Nick Buoniconti, founder of The Buoniconti Fund and defensive captain of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. “This year’s group of honorees represent such a high caliber of sports, we are truly thrilled that they will be joining us for yet another spectacular event. We have made significant steps this year towards finding a cure for spinal cord injuries. That’s why we keep doing this.”

The 2008 Great Sports Legends that will be honored at the event and are expected to attend are: Andre Agassi – former world-ranked #1 professional tennis star, Jerry Rice – named All-Pro 10 times in his 20 NFL seasons, Scottie Pippen – seven-time NBA All Star, Joe Gibbs – Hall of Fame NFL coach and NASCAR Championship team owner, Helio Castroneves – winner of the Indianapolis 500 in both 2001 and 2002, Richard “Goose” Gossage – former New York Yankees pitcher, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini – World Boxing Association lightweight champion for two years in the 1980s, Angelo Dundee – boxing cornerman who has worked with 15 world boxing champions, and Gabrielle Reece – American professional volleyball player, sports presenter and former fashion model.

Over the past two decades, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored 337 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 positive role models. Their participation has helped raise more than $40 million for The Miami Project’s spinal cord injury research programs. Former honorees include Magic Johnson, John Elway, Mark Messier, Gary Player, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Mickey Mantle, Jack Nicklaus, Gloria Estefan, Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Ewing, Walter Cronkite, Mia Hamm, Dan Marino, and Joe DiMaggio.

In 1985, Barth A. Green, MD, 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, housed in the Lois Pope LIFE Center, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The Miami Project’s international 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 organization devoted to assisting The Miami Project achieve its national and international 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 http://www.miamiproject.miami.edu/x1415.xml.

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