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  • Celebrity Fight Night will have a leadership change as the fundraiser is postponed again – The Arizona Republic

 May 19

by Carolina

There will be changes at the top when Celebrity Fight Night returns in 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrity Fight Night has raised more than $90 million for charities in its 27 years. The red carpet gala brings in the money through the auctioning off of donated items including lavish vacations and meet-and-greets with celebrities.

Proceeds from the event benefit a variety of worthy causes, but the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute has been the primary beneficiary. Ali, who died in 2016, had a long-standing association with the event.

Celebrity Fight Night was last held in 2019. When it picks up again on March 12, 2022, founder Jimmy Walker will no longer be out front. Walker is shifting his focus to philanthropic efforts.

Celebrity Fight Night partnering with Gateway for Cancer Research

Stepping up to take the helm will be Dr. Stacie and Richard J. Stephenson as Fight Night merges with Gateway for Cancer Research, an international grantmaking organization dedicated to funding innovative, patient-centric clinical research.

“While it’s no secret that cancer is at the heart of our philanthropic endeavors, Stacie and I have been passionate supporters of Celebrity Fight Night and its tireless work to combat Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases,” Richard J. Stephenson, founder and chairman of the Board of Gateway for Cancer Research, said in a press release.

“It’s an honor to usher in the next era for an event that resonates with so many people and makes such a tremendous charitable impact.”

Walker will remain involved with Fight Night

Walker and Sean Currie, the organization’s executive director will continue to lead the Celebrity Fight Night International Foundation, according to the press release.

Walker says he looks forward to the future of Celebrity Fight Night.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has made Celebrity Fight Night such a successful event and the foundation upon which so many friendships have been formed,” Walker said in a press release.

“I look forward to cheering on the Stephensons and Gateway for Cancer Research as they carry on the meaningful work of Celebrity Fight Night.”

Ali was also a driving force behind Celebrity Fight Night as many of the celebrity participants, particularly those who were also professional athletes, came on board at least in part because of his involvement.

Over the years celebrities including Larry Fitzgerald, Charles Barkley, Billy Crystal, Reba McEntire, Quincy Jones, Andrea Bocelli, Bo Derek, Smokey Robinson, Rob Gronkowski, Buzz Aldrin and many more have taken part in the event.

Ali’s wife Lonnie said she and her husband were proud to have been a part of it.

“Muhammad and I were proud to be part of Celebrity Fight Night for more than 20 years,” said Lonnie Ali in a press release.

“The legacy Jimmy created and the difference he made in the fight against Parkinson’s disease, as well as so many other important causes, will forever be recognized. We are so grateful for Celebrity Fight Night’s significant role in establishing the world-class Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute.”

Elizabeth Montgomery is Arts and Culture Reporter for The Arizona Republic, azcentral.com. Reach her at emontgomery@azcentral.com or 602-444-8764. Follow her on Twitter @emontnews. Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

Original posted at www.azcentral.com

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