Remembering Nick: Miami Project gala to honor Buoniconti

<p>
              FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2008, file photo, Pro Football Hall of Fame player Nick Buoniconti, right, and his son Marc Buoniconti arrive for the 23rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner in New York. Pro Football Hall of Famer Ed Reed and such sports stars as Dwyane Wade, Wladimir Klitschko, Chase Utley, Matt Biondi, Christian Vieri, Amy Van Dyken-Rouen and Meghan Duggan will be honored by The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis on Monday night, Oct. 7, 2019, at the organization’s annual gala. The night really will be dedicated to the late Nick Buoniconti.(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams, FIle)
            </p>

Pro Football Hall of Famer Ed Reed and such sports stars as Dwyane Wade, Wladimir Klitschko, Chase Utley, Matt Biondi, Christian Vieri, Amy Van Dyken-Rouen and Meghan Duggan will be honored by The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis on Monday night at the organization’s annual gala.

The night really will be dedicated to the late Nick Buoniconti.

Buoniconti, who passed away in July, devoted the last 34 years of his life to finding a cure for people affected by spinal cord injury after his son, Marc, was paralyzed after making a tackle in a 1985 game for The Citadel. So while Nick Buoniconti is remembered as a Hall of Fame linebacker and leader of the “No Name Defense” that helped the Miami Dolphins win two Super Bowls, his legacy is the foundation and the Great Sports Legends Dinner that has honored more than 350 sports legends and humanitarians and has raised more than $123 million.

The Buoniconti Fund: The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is considered the premier investigative research program conducting cutting-edge discovery, translational, and clinical investigations targeting spinal cord and brain injuries. The Miami Project’s international team includes more than 200 scientists, researchers, clinicians, and support staff who take innovative approaches to the challenges of spinal cord and brain injuries.

“The dinner is going to be a celebration of the life and legacy of Nick,” Marc Buoniconti says. “Along with honoring the eight legends, some of our success stories will be highlighted.

“It is hard to imagine based on all he accomplished in his life — his Hall of Fame career was one thing, but to go on and become a lawyer, a business man and president of a Fortune 500 company (U.S. Tobacco), and to broadcast for 24 years on HBO — and just when he might be thinking about retirement and resting on his laurels and his accomplishments, my injury happened. And his real true colors came to life. He had always faced challenges and always would rise above it and he conquered those challenges, and this was the ultimate challenge.

“He gave up many years of his life and basically his career; he ended up choosing the Miami Project over his own ambition.”

Marc recalls how his father “adopted millions of sons and daughters in wheelchairs that he would never meet. He felt for the people in wheelchairs and they needed a warrior for them and he was that warrior.”