HOLLYWOOD, FL – Hard Rock Heals Foundation raised a record-setting $750,000 at a recent Ukraine Relief Fund Gala dinner hosted by former World Champion Heavyweight Boxer Wladimir Klitschko.
Nearly 1,000 guests came together at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood to raise $750,000, the most money ever raised at a charity event organized by Hard Rock Heals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization connected to Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming. The Ukraine Relief Fund Gala was generously underwritten by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Coca-Cola and hundreds of other companies and individuals.
“From the bottom of my heart for all of you joining us for just a remarkable cause,” said David Hoenemeyer, Seminole Gaming Chief Operating Officer. He introduced Klitschko and by saying, “I saw you fight live many times. I respect you as a fighter and most of all, after tonight, as a human being for what you are doing for your country.”
Klitschko, who has lived in Hollywood, FL, but returned to his home in Kyiv at the start of the war, took the podium to recount the struggles faced by hundreds of thousands of his fellow Ukrainians as a result of the war, which has caused unimaginable suffering during its 14 grueling months.
The Olympic gold medalist, International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee and two-time World Champion Heavyweight Boxer, thanked the large crowd in attendance at the event.
“Thank you for all the feelings and the empathy that you are giving us in Ukraine,” said Klitschko. “All the funds that are raised are going to help us in Ukraine to overcome these challenging times.”
Live and silent auction items included a pair of track shoes donated by eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt and a pair of boxing gloves autographed and donated by World Champion Heavyweight Boxer Evander Holyfield, who also attended the Ukraine Relief Fund Gala. Holyfield donated a one-hour in-ring boxing lesson as part of the boxing gloves live auction package, which sold at auction for $6,000.
Punk rock band Gogol Bordello performed its signature “gypsy punk” music. Legendary Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz (pronounced “Hootz”) was born in Ukraine and grew up on the outskirts of Kyiv before immigrating with his parents to the United States when he was 16.
Hutz, an outspoken supporter of his home country who has organized fundraising events that have included performances by his band Gogol Bordello and other celebrated musicians recently said, “This is a pretty serious trait of Ukrainians: their resilience and that whole turning frustration into inspiration, and anger into energy and defiance and resistance. It’s a fight of people for their own destiny. Ukrainians are very good at that.”