The Second Annual Up2Us Gala was a great success, bringing together more than 300 guests including Hollywood celebrities Heidi Klum, Gretchen Mol, Jonny Lee Miller and Kyle MacLachlan who mingled alongside sports figures such as New York Giants cornerback, Prince Amukamara, Milwaukee Bucks power forward, John Henson and U.S. Olympians Kim Vandenberg and Sarah Hughes. More than 300 guests joined the celebration while raising more than $470,000 to help advance sports as a solution to the critical challenges facing America’s youth – obesity, violence and academic failure.
College basketball analyst Bill Raftery emceed the star-studded event, joined by Pro Football Hall of Famer, Curtis Martin who presented the Up2Us Legacy Award to Commissioner Tagliabue. Jay Agresta, President of Benzel-Busch Motor Car Corp, presented the second Up2Us Legacy Award of the evening to Stephen Cannon. The program included a powerful video highlighting the struggle and success of Up2Us’ Coach Across America (CAA) coach Israel Frank. The crowd rose to their feet after the Coach of the Year winner’s moving speech, “Through my training at Coach Across America, I’ve learned to separate the child from the behavior. The kid isn’t bad, he’s just made bad choices,” Coach Israel explained. He added, “I see kids going in the wrong direction like I was, and Up2Us has given me an opportunity to show them the right way. Like the other CAA coaches, I’m someone the kids can relate to and I think that’s what makes Up2Us’ Coach Across America program so effective.”
“Coach Israel’s story is a testament to the power of sports and the important role mentors can play in the lives of young people, especially kids living in underserved communities,” said Paul Caccamo, founder and president of Up2Us. “The support we have received from our friends in the business, entertainment and sports community has been incredible and encouraging. Every day, news reports remind us of the urgent need to advance the SBYD movement and place more coaches like Israel Frank to serve our nation’s most vulnerable youth. We can create real social change through sports and positively impact the lives of millions of children across the country.”
Take a look at some of the photos below!