PRESS RELEASE: Challenged Athletes Foundation Holds Its 8th Annual “A Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope” Gala in New York City

Record-Breaking $2.3 Million Raised; Lives Changed

SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Notables from Wall Street, the world of sports and broadcast media came together on June 11 in New York City to celebrate inspirational challenged athletes at the 8th Annual “A Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope” gala which has now raised more than $10 million to fund the athletic dreams and goals of athletes with physical challenges around the world.

The event was hosted by The TODAY Show’s Natalie Morales and Willie Geist and honored William A. Ackman, Founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P. More than 850 guests filled the Grand Ballroom at the historic Waldorf=Astoria to celebrate what it takes to grow stronger while raising funds for CAF’s mission to help those with physical challenges live active and healthy lifestyles.

The evening featured stories of heroic and triumphant challenged athletes including:

  • Celeste Corcoran, a Boston Marathon survivor who may have lost both her legs, but certainly not her spirit.
  • Alana Nichols, the first female Paralympian, or Olympian, to win gold in both Summer and Winter Games.
  • U.S. Navy Lieutenant Brad Snyder, a Paralympic swimmer who found his way to gold after losing his vision to an IED blast.
  • Braylon O’Neill, a 5-year-old double amputee who captured the hearts of millions starring in the Microsoft Super Bowl commercial.

“A Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope” raised a record-breaking $2.3 million to fund equipment, travel and training expenses and provide mentoring and free sports clinics for challenged athletes. The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) believes everyone has the right to participate in life-affirming sports and that finances should never be the obstacle that keeps physically challenged athletes on the sidelines. The funds raised at the gala will ensure that challenged athletes around the world will get the opportunity to live a full and active life.

“I am so honored to share that not only was this event a record-breaking year, but that Wednesday’s success brought the event to over $10 million in funds raised in just eight years,” says Scott Stackman, gala founder, committee chairman and CAF board member. “I want to extend my deepest gratitude to our honoree, Bill Ackman, who truly brought our New York community together to provide strength to others and ensure future generations will have the opportunity to succeed in sports and in life.”

In a battle for the coveted Ironman World Championship slot, the golden ticket to Kona went for a winning bid of $42,000. Thanks to the generosity of Ironman, a second Kona slot was added – which also went for $42,000.

CAF thanks the contributions of our generous sponsors who help make “A Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope” a success. The 2014 event sponsors include Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P.; Julie & Martin Franklin; Harbinger Group Inc.; Jeffrey A. Altman Foundation; Daniel S. Loeb/Third Point LLC; Rachel & Gary Sumers; Scott L. Stackman; Blackstone Charitable Foundation; Fisher Brothers Foundation; Charlotte & Gary Gilbert; IRONMAN; Gail Stackman; UBS Americas and many more.

CAF looks forward to changing even more lives at next year’s “A Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope” gala on June 10, 2015. Visit to learn more about all of CAF’s unique events.

Challenged Athletes Foundation
The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is a world leader in helping individuals with physical challenges get involved – and stay involved – in sports. CAF believes that participation in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life. Since 1994, more than $55 million has been raised and almost 9,500 funding requests from challenged athletes in all 50 states and dozens of countries have been satisfied. Additionally, CAF’s outreach efforts reach another 60,000 individuals each year. Whether it’s a $2,500 grant for a handcycle, helping underwrite a carbon fiber running foot not covered by insurance, or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar challenge, CAF’s mission is clear: give those with the desire to live active, athletic lifestyles every opportunity to compete in the sports they love. To learn more, log on to or call 858-866-0959.