Sports fans, who offerer up their support to Best Buddies, got to celebrate a milestone anniversary with arguably the greatest football player of all time.
The 25th annual Best Buddies Miami Gala, complete with a dinner, silent auction and a performance by singer and rapper Nelly, was held at Ice Palace Studios in Miami, Florida on Friday.
During the ceremony, legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady received the Spirit Of Leadership Award, which is ‘the highest Best Buddies accolade presented to distinguished luminaries who have shown great leadership, generosity, and spirit in supporting the organization’s mission,’ according to the organization’s website.
Brady, who serves as a Best Buddies global ambassador, began his work with the organization back when he played for the New England Patriots, and it continues now in retirement after playing three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies International is a non-profit ‘dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).’
The sure-fire, first ballot hall of famer, who only just retired this past season, came dressed for success in a classic black suit with a white dress shirt and black tie.
At certain points, the five-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player took the microphone to address the audience of supporters to talk about the work being done by the non-profit
To help increase proceeds, there were a number of Brady jerseys and footballs that were part of the auction.
The crowd was buzzing when Brady decided to show off his arm and throw a perfect spiral to one of the supporters.
Considered to the best to have ever played by most fans and sports pundits, the recently retired NFL superstar then decided to take things a little more serious and took off his blazer for his next pass to someone in the audience.
The auction featured various items, including once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, fine art, exclusive vacations, and sporting events.
Grammy Award winner Nelly (born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr), 49, highlighted the evening’s entertainment with a special performance that included some of his biggest hits.
Some of the other high-profile people on hand to lend their support included Carl Lewis, Courtney Six, Caroline Dixon, Juliette Valle and Charlotte McKinney, among many others.
Proceeds from the event will go directly to Best Buddies’ mission of creating friendships, jobs, leadership development, and inclusive living opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Throughout his 20-plus year friendship with the organization, Best Buddies has served tens of thousands of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and raised over $100 million for our global programs.
Brady’s support not only helps the organization financially, but also builds Best Buddies’ brand awareness and promotes its mission-based initiatives that create friendship, jobs, leadership development training, and inclusive housing for people with disabilities.
During his work as a Best Buddies Global Ambassador, he has hosted and attended events from Boston and Cape Cod to as far as Qatar.
Over the years he has written letters, made phone calls, and continues to do whatever he can to help Best Buddies with its development efforts by connecting the organization with his sponsors and supporters.
During his playing days he even hosted special guests at his football games, and provided memorabilia at various events like the 25th anniversary gala.
The IDD community that Best Buddies serves includes people with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.
The programs used by the organization empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills, and feel valued by society.
Best Buddies is recognized as the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The late Keith Haring, one of the best-known contemporary artists, had a family member with special needs, so he created and donated the Best Buddies logo in the late 1980s.
That explains why Haring’s unique artistry is plastered all over the backdrops during Best Buddy events.
The organization maintains the logo ‘incorporates a colorful creation that represents one-to-one affection and acceptance