On Thursday, November 18, 2010 at Cipriani 55 Wall Street in New York, New York Alumni of the University of Notre Dame, Alumnae of Saint Mary's College (Indiana) and Wall Street gathered to honor Coach Lou Holtz. The Lou Holtz Coach for Life event included over 500 guests that attended a reception and dinner to pay tribute to legendary college football coach and ESPN sportscaster, Lou Holtz. The benefit was a fitting prelude to the milestone football game between Notre Dame and Army on Saturday, November 20, 2010. That game marked the 50th meeting between the two programs and returned the historic series to the place where it was first played in 1925 - Yankee Stadium.
Holtz received a standing ovation upon entering the dining hall of Cipriani with Mrs. Holtz to the Fight Song of the Fighting Irish performed by members of the pep band of the University of Notre Dame Band of the Fighting Irish in attendance for the event.
Tables were adorned with roses, hydrangea and candlelight over gold satin tablecloths. Guests dined on fresh crab with artichoke and avocado, braised lamb shank with baked cauliflower in béchamel sauce and whipped sweet potato. Guests received a commemorative program that chronicled Holtz's career and credited event underwriters and other sponsors.
Ari Fleischer, of Ari Fleischer Sports Communications, served as Master of Ceremony. Keynote speakers shared memories and tributes to Holtz. Speakers included Tim Brown, 1987 Heisman Trophy winner, Pete Najarian of CNBC's Fast Money, Rod West, Trustee of the University of Notre Dame, Ryan Leahy and Ned Bolcar. All were former players of Coach Holtz during his coaching career at the University of Minnesota and University of Notre Dame.
- The champagne toast given by well known Irish fan and Live with Regis and Kelly television host, Regis Philbin.
- Personal greetings recorded from the Honorable President George H. W. Bush and the Honorable President Bill Clinton.
- Vince Vaughn Film Actor, Comedian, Screenwriter and Producer, narrated a tribute video that showcased the Holtz legacy with memorable clips from his 11 seasons at Notre Dame and included memories and remarks from football greats: Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer and University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, who was the Defensive Coach under Lou Holtz while at the University of Notre Dame.
- Richard Rosenthal, former athletic director at the university also shared his memories with Coach.
- Film director John Lee Hancock also sent video remarks about working with Holtz on the feature film The Blind Side.
- Governor (Robert) Bob McDonell '76 of Virginia provided a letter congratulating Coach Holtz in the commemorative program.
- The evening concluded with an inspirational speech given by Holtz.
The evening successfully raised funds and included a high-end three-item silent auction table to establish a Notre Dame scholarship. The scholarship established from this evening's fundraiser benefited a scholarship named to honor Holtz and the teams he led known as Lou's Lads. This scholarship provides financial assistance to students in need and is an extension of Holtz's way of being there to support and encourage not only his team but everyone with the willingness and spirit to do his or her best.
Among the guests were several notable business and sports industry leaders such as Ken Schanzer, former President of NBC Sports. Several former players of Coach Holtz were in attendance, and several teammates joined Coach Holtz and his family on stage for the Alma Mater, Notre Dame Our Mother: Steve Beuerlein '87, Mike Kovaleski '87, Stan Smagala '89, Frank Stams '89, Reggie Brooks '93 (played through '93 football season), Ricky Watters '89, Pat Terrell '89, Dave Butler '86, Pete Graham '89, Ryan Leahy '95, Terry Andrysiak '88, Lindsay Knapp '92, Rod West '89, David Prinzivalli '89, Ned Bolcar '89, Pat Eilers '89, Kevin McShane '90 and Mike Brennan '89, Jeff Kilburg '97, and Byron Spruell '87.
The Lou Holtz Coach for Life event was orchestrated by Rachel Duchi, President & Creative Director of r'duchi and Saint Mary's Alumna, along with Martin Fitzpatrick, Notre Dame Alum and Owner at Fitz Creative, designed the commemorative program and the event Lou Holtz Coach for Life logo. Julia Saboda, Writer and Producer, assisted in directing the tribute video and writing the evening's run of show. Luke Conway, Director, Major Gifts at the University of Notre Dame was instrumental in organizing guest event purchases directly with the university. "Many guests shared with me that it was the best event they have ever attended and that you could feel the love in the room that night, which signaled a success. I am honored to have been part of this significant evening." states Fitzpatrick. Former player in attendance Kevin McShane shared that the night was a "terrific event honoring Coach Holtz. It was a spectacular event and fitting tribute to Lou and his family."
Event underwriters that participated to make this event possible include:
- The Frank Eck Family Foundation
- Kevin and Karen Keyes, both graduates of the University of Notre Dame
- The Patrick and Jana Eilers Family
- Michael Brennan
- Vince Naimoli
- Ned Bolcar
Prior to the event, festivities began with a thunderous applause for Coach Holtz as he walked onto the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange for the first time. Holtz was enthusiastically approached by traders asking for autographs and requests to speak on the phone with clients as Coach made his way on the floor. Holtz was joined by Notre Dame Alums Michael Brennan, Ned Bolcar and Daniel Lee.
- ↑ Previous Yankee Stadium games between the Irish and the Cadets came in 1925-29, 1931-46, and 1969 (the 100th anniversary of college football).
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