Sports and Philanthropic Champions to Be Honored at 37th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner

Edgerrin James is a member of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame, a member of the NFL’s All-2000s Decade Team, and the greatest running back in Indianapolis Colts history. Tony Stewart, nicknamed “Smoke,” is a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, an IndyCup Series champion, and an International Race of Champions title-holder. Lindsey Vonn is a four-time World Cup skiing champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and the women’s record-holder for the most World Cup skiing victories.

Tim Hardaway preparing to shoot a free throw.
Tim Hardaway.

Tim Hardaway is a newly inducted Hall of Famer, a five-time All-NBA Team member and an Olympic Gold Medalist. Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney is the “First Lady of Drag Racing,” having been the first female to receive a license from the U.S. Hot Rod Association to drive a Top Fuel dragster, and the first person, male or female, to win three Top Fuel titles. Sarah Will is the most decorated athlete in U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing history, with 13 Winter Paralympics medals, and is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins is the only football team in history to have a perfect season, going undefeated in the regular season, then sweeping the playoffs before going on to win the Super Bowl. And Nick Buoniconti was an NFL Pro Hall of Famer who was the middle linebacker and captain of that legendary team, a two-time Super Bowl champion, and the founder of The Buoniconti Fund and its parent organization, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

While they have all excelled at their respective sports, they now join a singular iconic group. Indeed, these outstanding sports professionals, Hall of Famers, gold medalists, world champions, and boldface names will be honored by The Buoniconti Fund at its 37th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner, presented by The Tudor Group and the Mack family, on Monday, October 24, at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, New York City.

Two Special Honors

Edgerrin James running with a football.
Edgerrin James.

In addition to the sports legends, two special honors will be conferred: Mary Kate Callahan, a National Paratriathlon Champion, four-time Paratriathlon American Championship medalist, and two-time World Paratriathlon medalist, will receive The Buoniconti Fund’s 2022 Inspiration Award. Philanthropist Lois Pope, the nation’s foremost supporter of disabled veterans who made a $10 million gift 20 years ago to endow the Lois Pope LIFE Center as the permanent home for The Buoniconti Fund/Miami Project, will receive The Buoniconti Fund Humanitarian Award.

The event is being emceed by Lesley Visser, the distinguished Hall of Fame sportscaster, TV and radio personality and sportswriter who in 2009 became the first female NFL analyst on TV, and who is the only sportscaster in history who has worked on Final FourNBA FinalsWorld SeriesTriple CrownMonday Night Football, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the World Figure Skating Championships and the U.S. Open network broadcasts. She was elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association‘s Hall of Fame in 2015.

The dinner, which is chaired by Mark Dalton of Tudor Investment Corporation, serves to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The Miami Project, a designated Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is the world’s premier spinal cord injury research center.

Presented by The Tudor Group and the Mack family, the dinner annually attracts a veritable “Who’s Who” of more than 1,000 sports legends, celebrities, philanthropists, corporate leaders and other influential people. The evening includes honoring the Sports Legends and Honorees, entertainment by Rain, A Tribute to the Beatles, a spectacular auction featuring one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia items, fabulous jewelry, and much more.

Generous Benefactors

Lindsey Vonn.

Benefactors include The Tudor Group, Mack family, Mark Dalton, Reed Mack, Carnival Corporation, Carnival Foundation, Micky and Madeleine Arison, Pepe Badia and Badia Spices, Inc.

 “This year’s Legends Dinner, like all those that preceded it, will include another amazing line-up of sports celebrities and honorees, all coming together to help us stand up for those who can’t,” said Marc Buoniconti, Buoniconti Fund president. “The evening will be an emotional one as we pay tribute to these great individuals, but also to my dad, who was the driving force behind our efforts since he made the promise to find a cure for paralysis to me in my hospital room 37 years ago. We will honor his legacy as we work to fulfill that promise to all living with paralysis.”

Indeed, the evening will pay a special, posthumous tribute to Nick Buoniconti, who founded, with Dr. Barth Green, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, in 1985 after Marc was paralyzed in a college football game. Nick Buoniconti, who passed away in 2019, spent more than three decades dedicated to finding a cure for people affected by spinal cord injury, including his son and millions of others around the world.

Sports Legends Alumni

Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula being hoisted up by players.
Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula.

Since its inception in 1985, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has honored more than 370 sports legends and humanitarians and has raised more than $130 million for The Miami Project’s spinal cord injury research programs. The Miami Project-Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis is committed to finding a cure for paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury and to seeing millions worldwide walk again.

“Sports Legends Alumni” include Muhammad Ali, Willie Mays, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Tony Hawk, Cal Ripken, Jr., Gloria Estefan, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, Alex Rodriguez, Ray Allen, George Foreman, Julio Iglesias, Helio Castroneves, Troy Aikman, Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Joe Namath, Pedro Martinez, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dan Marino, Mike Piazza, Pat Riley, Grant Hill, Bill Cowher, Kelly Slater, Joe Torre, Venus Williams, Michael Jordan, Simone Biles, Abby Wambach, and many other athletes and heroes — all of whom recognize that paralyzing injuries can and do occur in the pursuit of athletic careers and everyday lives.

The 37th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner begins at 5:30 PM at the Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway. Tickets and tables can be purchased by calling Jackie Manzano at (305) 243-4656 or online at For more information about The Buoniconti Fund, please visit: To take part in the conversation via social media, follow on Facebook at @cureparalysis, Instagram @TheMiamiProject or Twitter @BuonicontiFund using hashtags #SportsLegendsDinner, #CureParalysis and #StandUpForThoseWhoCant.

Tags: Don Shula, Edgerrin James, Great Sports Legends Dinner, Lindsey Vonn, Marc Buoniconti, Miami Dolphins, Nick Buoniconti, The Buoniconti Fund, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Tim Hardaway