|(l to r) Garber, Johnson And Schanzer With
Their Respective Awards From March Of Dimes
The sports industry raised nearly $700,000 at its 25th annual March of Dimes sports luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria in N.Y. yesterday, said luncheon Chair Sean McManus, President of CBS News and Sports. Over the past 25 years the luncheon, which has become a must-attend event for N.Y.-based sports industry execs, has raised more than $1M. This year's event honored NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson as Sportsman of the Year and golfer Lorena Ochoa as Sportswoman of the Year. NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer was honored with the Corporate Leadership Award, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber was given the Sports Leadership Award. NBC News anchor Brian Williams introduced Schanzer and drew laughs when he acknowledged former NFL Giants, including LB Harry Carson and RB Ottis Anderson, in the crowd. "It's great to have so many former Giants in the crowd. All of them are unarmed." In accepting the award, Schanzer said, "I've never forgotten for a moment how fortunate I was to switch careers." Patriots and Revolution Owner Robert Kraft introduced Garber by remembering when he approached the then-NFL executive in '99 to run the new league. Kraft: "We placed our faith and collective investment in the league in the hands of Don Garber. That was the best business decision I have ever been involved with." NASCAR Chair and CEO Brian France introduced Johnson by citing the charity work the driver performs. “We’re most proud about how Jimmie Johnson conducts himself,” France said. LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens introduced Ochoa, who was not able to attend the lunch due to a “schedule commitment." Golf Channel broadcaster Val Skinner accepted the award for Ochoa.
NAME GAME: In a potentially embarrassing moment, ESPN's Hannah Storm, who emceed the event alongside CBS' Jim Nantz, drew groans from the audience when she introduced Hockey HOFer Rod Gilbert among the past winners and dignitaries present and said his last name with a hard "G" and "t" rather than the French pronunciation. At the end of the event, Storm corrected her mistake, referring to Gilbert as “my new favorite hockey player.”