Tony Hawk, Lance Armstrong, Mia Hamm, Andre Agassi, and Muhammad Ali were amongst the sports stars who gathered for a private “Philanthropic Boot Camp” recently.

Andre Agassi greets skateboard legend Tony Hawk at philanthropic boot camp
Andre Agassi greets skateboard legend Tony Hawk at philanthropic boot camp
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UGive.org and Athletes For Hope organized the weekend “escape for GOOD” for major donors, family philanthropists and social change experts at The Sanctuary Spa and Resort on Camelback on February 23-26, 2012.

The “escape” was hosted by elite champions including Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Johnny Bench, Julie Foudy, Stefanie Graf, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Tom Jackson, Andrea Jaeger, Dhani Jones, Alonzo Mourning, Anthony Munoz, Annika Sorenstam and six Iron Chefs: Todd English, Doug Keane, Francois De Melogue, Elizabeth Falkner, Beau MacMillan and Julian Serrano.

“Escape for GOOD was a convergence of wonderfully talented, imaginative and intelligent people from all corners of the philanthropic world, who offered up novel ideas and discussions that may change the rubric throughout which future philanthropic models are viewed,” said Lonnie Ali, wife of Muhammad Ali and Ali Center Co-Founder.

What made the “escape” unique is that every participant came prepared to meet their heroes on equal ground, to re-examine their legacies and to accelerate their power to make a difference. Without focusing on just one cause or social issue, the weekend coordinated “passion chats” across a spectrum of interests and allowed guests to tackle social problems from a variety of perspectives.

“The ‘escape’ concept began with a unique opportunity to bring together an amazing group of people for GOOD,” said Deanna Castellini, Co-founder of escape for GOOD, UGive.org, and family owner of the Cincinnati Reds. “What it became was more than any of us ever imagined – a weekend of true bonding, exciting physical challenges, authentic conversations between all participants with each having a truly equal voice. All of us experienced something larger than ourselves, we each examined our personal legacies as well as the incredible opportunity to work together to make the world a better place. UGive.org is excited to support the many causes highlighted during the weekend, using our platform to connect the next generation to give back on their own terms and by pursuing their own passion for change.”

Daily highlights included cycling with Lance Armstrong, golf clinic with Annika Sorenstam, tennis with Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf, Andrea Jaeger and Tony Hawk, power workouts with NFL players and others, all balanced out with “passion chats” that included the same mix of athletes and guests.

“The biggest thing was being surrounded by accomplished people who care deeply about their success having a more meaningful purpose. And, even more importantly, they valued collaboration with others to do even more for the next generation and the world around us,” Julie Foudy, former captain US women’s Soccer Team, Founder Julie Foudy Sports Academy, ESPN analyst.

The theme of service culminated in a celebration of Muhammad Ali’s life and legacy, emceed by Johnny Bench. This private celebration featured tributes from nearly all the athletes:

  • Lance Armstrong acknowledged a little known fact that genetics testing had uncovered a distant cousin relationship between Lance and Muhammad;
  • Mia Hamm shared her 6-week old son Garrett with Muhammad and toasted the moment:
  • Ben Utecht, Super Bowl champion, scripted a song for Ali;
  • Iron Chef Elizabeth Falkner created a special birthday cake featuring a Pink Rolls Royce – the car Muhammad had always dreamed of; and
  • American Idol, Richie Law performed Muhammad’s favorite song, “Stand by Me.”

The weekend “escape” served to connect different segments of the philanthropic world that are not often integrated in discussions, to create a greater understanding of the platform that sport can play in supporting social change, and to empower guests to do more and reach out more intentionally to the next generation as partners in making a difference.

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