As the National Football League was gearing up for Super Bowl 50, more than 500 guests were dressing up to attend the 11th annual Legends for Charity® event at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square hotel benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Created and produced by Cheryl DeLeonardis, president of Ocean 2 Ocean Productions, Legends for Charity has become one of the cornerstone events of Super Bowl weekend. During the event, the Pat Summerall award is presented to individuals who have shown the same character, integrity and leadership in their careers and lives as the late Pat Summerall.
This year, legendary Hall of Fame NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden was the recipient of this coveted award for his significant contribution in the sports field. Unable to attend the event, his sons Mike and Joe Madden accepted on his behalf. Friends and colleagues showed their support, including sports broadcaster Chris Berman; former Oakland Raiders linebacker Ted Hendricks; former Pittsburgh Steelers halfback Rocky Bleier; NFL Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff; and Ken Aagaard, executive vice president at CBS Sports. The evening featured video congratulatory tributes by NFL sportscasters including James Brown, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Jim Nantz and Lance Barrow.
FOX Sports/DirectTV talent and 2015 Summerall Award recipient Joe Buck served as emcee, and recognized the exceptional contributions Madden made throughout his career. Rich Eisen, broadcaster with NFL Network and DirectTV, was the guest speaker and provided a powerful message about John Madden’s leadership on and off the field.
During the live auction, Joe Buck delighted attendees with a $10,000 bid for a painting of Biletnikoff. Other live auction items included a Napa Valley wine cellar excursion and NFL on Location – Super Bowl 50 Experience, which sold for $11,500 and $10,000, respectively.
The silent auction featured sports, entertainment and fashion memorabilia, including an autographed photo of NBA MVP Stephen Curry being defended by LeBron James; a signed football by two-time Super Bowl Champion Peyton Manning; Metallica signed guitar; Saks 5th Avenue Shop and Sip experience; and a signed football by NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Joe Montana.
The evening was filled with laughter, memorable stories and hopeful hearts for the day that no child dies from cancer or other life-threatening diseases. One story that captured the true passion for the work that St. Jude provides was that of Ron and Aimee, the founders of Key for a Cure Foundation and parents of former St. Jude patient Matthew, who was diagnosed at just two months old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia — an extremely rare diagnosis for an infant. Though St. Jude doctors fought relentlessly to save him, Matthew passed from complications related to his cancer. He was two-and-a-half years old. Inspired by Matthew’s fight — and with the hope that one day no child will have to suffer — Matthew’s family formed the Key for a Cure Foundation to fund innovative pediatric cancer research at St. Jude and was the Pre-Game sponsor of the event.
The event raised more than $350,000 to help ensure that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.