Last Thursday morning was a memorable event for many in the greater Phoenix area, including those of us at Scottsdale.com. Phoenix based organization, Celebrity Fight Night, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation and many donors, friends and media met at the St. Vincent de Paul campus in downtown Phoenix to attend the unveiling of a brand new basketball and sports court. The court is for use by those who are in need of services from St. Vincent de Paul.
Funds for the new and impressively large basketball and sports court were raised at the 2nd Annual Celebrity Fight Night in Italy charity trip with world renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli. Guests at that charity event were treated to a tour of Bocelli’s favorite spots, plus a concert in his private back yard.
“We are so thankful for the Celebrity Fight Night Sport Court,” says Steve Zabilski, executive director for St. Vincent de Paul. “Jimmy and Andrea and everyone at Celebrity Fight Nighthave made a dream come true in donating a place where our homeless guests now have a place to play basketball and get exercise on our new Celebrity Fight Night Sport Court.” Celebrity Fight Night has been a supporter of St. Vincent de Paul for many years and has created the “Never Give Up” program which offers words of encouragement and inspiration to men and women who are homeless.
Celebrity Fight Night Founder, Jimmy Walker was front and center at the festivities, along with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton who joined Bocelli and Zabilski in cutting the ribbon at the event. Shortly thereafter, a large group of people populated the sports court and immediately started shooting baskets and participating in games. It was a lovely sight to see so many people coming together to play in the name of friendship and fitness and maybe put their troubles aside, if only for awhile.
In an unexpected moment, Bocelli spoke briefly at the podium and conveyed the importance and meaning of the beautiful new sports court. He then promptly broke out a gorgeous shortened a capella rendition of “Ave Maria.” Clearly everyone at the event was moved, including myself as I couldn’t contain the tears. It was the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever heard and to hear it up close and personal was truly a gift, not only to me, but to everyone in attendance.
Immediately following the unveiling and ribbon cutting ceremony at the sports court at St. Vincent de Paul, Jimmy Walker and Andrea Bocelli and his family joined Muhammad Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali for a tour of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Also in attendance were Director of Barrow Neurological Institute, Dr. Robert Spetzler, President and CEO of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, Brian Mortenson, Director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, Dr. Holly Shill, Medical Director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, Dr. Abraham Lieberman, Chair of the Department of Neurology at Barrow, Dr. Jeremy Shefner and COO of Barrow Neurological Institute, Tom Bour and various donors and members of the Barrow Foundation Board.
The impressive facility continues to make great strides and advancements in the ongoing fight against Parkinson’s.Celebrity Fight Night also generously supports the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. After all the speeches were given, the crowd gathered round at the center of the room and Bocelli once again graced everyone with a performance as he sang “Ombra Mai Fu” by George Handel and played the Steinway piano. Be sure to gear up and get ready for the next Celebrity Fight Night event that will take place in Scottsdale, Arizona on Saturday, April 9. For additional information, visit www.celebrityfightnight.org.