On Saturday, March 28, 2015 stars and athletes from around the country converged at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona for Muhammad Ali’s 21st Anniversary of Celebrity Fight Night.
GRAMMY® Award winning superstar of country music Reba McEntire returned for her tenth year as emcee and celebrated her 60th birthday last night. A resounding LED Drummers patriotic performance kicked off the night that was immediately followed by a stirring tribute to our country’s wounded veterans. Multi-Platinum recording artist Josh Groban, Seattle Seahawk’s quarterback Russell Wilson, and philanthropists Glenn and Mindy Stearns were honored with 2015 Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night Awards. Reba was surprised with video of Happy Birthday wishes from friends including Carol King, Tom Hanks, Keith Urban, Dolly Parton, Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Carol Burnett, The Band Perry and President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush.
Following the awards guests were treated to a host of performances under the direction of the multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning songwriter and producer David Foster, who returned for his 16th consecutive year as the evening’s Musical Director. Performances opened with Kelly Clarkson who sang hits “Since You’ve Been Gone,” “Walk Away,” and “Stronger,” followed by Ronnie Runn who sang “Red Dirt Road,” and “Boot Scootin Boogie.” Josh Groban then took the stage to perform “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “You Raise Me Up.” Additional performances included, Quinton Aaron singing “Let’s Stay Together,” Brenna Whitaker with “This Is A Man’s World,” and Frank Caliendo who performed a comedy set and impressions. Blake Shelton wished friend, Reba, a Happy Birthday, and sang “Drink On It,” “Home,” and his new single “Boys ‘Round Here.” The night concluded with birthday-girl Reba McEntire singing “Going Out Like That,” “Time On Her Hands,” and “Radio.” Finally Gloria Gaynor brought the crowd to their feet, closing out the evening with an incredible performance of “I Will Survive.”
The black tie event also featured a cocktail reception, a silent auction, an elegant dinner and an exciting live auction including one-of-a-kind luxury items. The live auction featured a trip to the Himalayas with Robert Kennedy Jr. and Cheryl Hines, a VIP Seattle Seahawks game experience with Russell Wilson, a getaway vacation with Richard Branson on his private Caribbean Island and more. The two highest selling live auction items of the night were a dinner with Reba McEntire and a Valentine’s Day trip to Miami with Andrea Bocelli — going for $1 million (twice for a total of $2 million) and $500,000 respectively. Celebrity Fight Night XXI raised a total of $7 million benefiting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as several other worthy charities. Each year dozens of celebrity guests attend the event that has raised $107 million in 21 years.
Additional celebrity guests included Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Michael Carbajal, Gennady Golovkin, Greg Jennings, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Cheryl Hines, Nancy Lieberman, Sam Moore, Carson Palmer, Bob and Renee Parsons, George Schlatter, Jane Seymour, Kevin Sorbo, Mayor Stanton, Mindy and Glenn Stearns, Dick and Stacy Stevens, Vern Troyer, and many more.