March 15, 2016 was a truly memorable night for Special Olympics Utah as over 40 athletes participated in An Evening with the Utah Jazz. The evening was a celebration of sport in benefit of the Larry H. Miller Charities and Special Olympics Utah. Special Olympics Utah athletes dressed in their uniforms and greeted guests as they arrived at the doors of the Vivint Smart Home Arena for this new, signature Utah Jazz charitable gala. It was an evening of inspiration as guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner with a Jazz personality, entertainment, live and silent auctions and on-court shooting contests — all to support individuals with intellectual disabilities served by Special Olympics Utah. Special Olympics Utah athlete and Global Messenger Anna Thain opened the evening with emotional remarks to over 550 guests who filled the arena floor. Anna shared how thrilled she was that after 27 years as a Special Olympics Utah basketball player she was able to be on the arena floor with the NBA Utah Jazz and share her story. Team Utah, the 2014 Special Olympics Utah basketball team that took fourth place at the USA finals, was highlighted in a three minute video about Special Olympics Utah and its over 35 year relationship with the Utah Jazz. Team Utah attended the event and represented all Special Olympics Utah athletes for the evening. Special Olympics Utah coach and father Rocky White and his son, athlete Travis White, spoke about the impact Special Olympics Utah has had on their lives. They shared some of their most memorable moments including their participation in Utah Jazz basketball clinics for Special Olympics Utah athletes. Special Olympics Utah athletes Kayley Tait and Joe Pratt were interviewed on a panel with three Utah Jazz players. “You have to trust your team members,” said Kayley. Her words rang true with the Utah Jazz players too as they confirmed, “She’s right; you have to trust your team.”At the end of the evening, in a truly surprising moment, Gail Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz; Steve Starks, the President of Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment; and Jay Francis, Executive Vice President of the Corporate Affairs and Miller Family Philanthropy presented Special Olympics Utah with a check for $100,000!
Check out this great video of the event. Watch closely and you’ll see some of our athletes in action!
Special Olympics Utah expresses its heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Gail Miller, Mr. Steve Starks, Mr. Jay Francis and Mr. Frank Zang for believing in possibilities, and the entire LHM team who created An Evening with the Utah Jazz.
And we give our furthers thanks to the sponsors, donors and guests who made the generous donation of $100,000 possible. These funds will support Special Olympics Utah’s year round sports training, competitions and programs for children and adult athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout the state.