WFAN’s Mike Francesa, NCAA wrestling champion Anthony Robles, and players from the New York Mets among guests at Celebrity Sports Night fundraiser
WFAN sports radio host Mike Francesa spent an evening off the air to support The Viscardi Center’s premier fundraising event, Celebrity Sports Night, on Thursday, May 17. Francesa, joined by players from the New York Mets and more than a dozen other professional athletes and celebrities, signed autographs and posed for photos with attendees, helping to raise vital funds that enable the continuation, enhancement, and expansion of programs and services for people with disabilities.
The 52nd annual event drew in nearly 600 community leaders and philanthropists to The Viscardi Center — an Albertson-based nonprofit dedicated to educating, employing, and empowering children and adults. This year was themed around the idea that, with access to opportunities, people with disabilities can be unstoppable.
“Unstoppable is the perfect word to describe our mindset at Viscardi,” said John D. Kemp, President & CEO of The Viscardi Center, during his opening remarks. “The children and adults with disabilities we serve are genuinely unstoppable on their quest for a high-quality education, a great job, and a meaningful, independent life. And all of this happens because of you here tonight.”
The theme carried the evening’s program, with guest honorees Anthony Robles, an NCAA wrestling champion who broke national records despite having one leg, and Suffolk County Police Officer Matias Ferreira, who lost both legs below the knee while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, receiving awards recognizing their unstoppable pursuit of goals and dreams.
A segment during the program, which saw Francesa interview three young people about the ways Viscardi empowered their lives, continued the theme. Mya, 2018 Henry Viscardi School valedictorian who will study at SUNY Purchase in the fall; Annel, a student enrolled in The Viscardi Center’s PROSPER program for at-risk youth; and Kate, a Henry Viscardi School alumna who graduated with honors from Hofstra University and is now paving a career in Communications, shared their personal triumphs and discussed plans for the future.
Chaired by John Hogan, Senior Managing Director of Technology, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., and the Hogan family, the night offered a sports-themed online auction, a sit-down dinner, and a live auction featuring world-class experiences at elite Long Island golf courses, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Mets Owner’s Suite, and a top-rated Broadway show.
Notable guests included New York Mets players Steven Matz, Tom Slater, and Jason Vargas, and Manager Mickey Calloway; former New York Jet John Dockery; Paralympic Volleyball Gold Medalist Lora Webster; former New York Giant Harry Carson; and former New York Jet Wesley Walker.
The Viscardi Center will host its 53nd annual Celebrity Sports Night on May 16, 2019.
About The Viscardi Center
Founded by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who served as disability advisor to eight U.S. Presidents and became one of the world’s leading advocates, The Viscardi Center educates, employs and empowers people with disabilities. It provides K-12 education, school-to-work youth transition services, vocational training, career counseling and employment placement, assistive technology, and adapted driver education to children, adolescents, and adults with a wide variety of disabilities. The Viscardi Center also assists businesses in diversifying their workforces, and developing and advancing disability inclusive cultures in their workplaces.