Sam Morris / Las Vegas Press Office
Monday September 27, 2021 | 2 a.m
With several music festivals in the back view this month in Las Vegas, the city is used to seeing lineups of stars come together for memorable performances. But a new one-night-only special event brings another incredible roster of superstars this week, this time raising money for the Boys & Girls Clubs and Communities in Schools program in Las Vegas and Atlanta.
Justin Bieber, Imagine Dragons, Kelly Clarkson, Snoop Dogg, Andra Day and more will star at the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation’s inaugural fundraising gala, The Event, on October 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The towering basketball legend who has maintained a significant presence in Las Vegas for years – he currently performs at a DJ residency at Wynn Nightlife Halls and his Big Chicken restaurant has opened one of his first locations on Paradise Road – established its foundation two years ago in partnership with the two national youth-focused organizations. The event was slated to debut in 2020, but the pandemic has changed plans.
âWe just had to change the timing to adapt to what was going on in the world,â said Kari Uyehara, executive director of the foundation. “Our office is based here and focuses on programming in Las Vegas and Atlanta, but it’s the entertainment capital of the world, so we had to do it here.”
The event widens the audience for black-tie charity galas by selling sponsorships and tables on the floor of the Grand Garden Arena, as well as tickets to sit in the bleachers for a concert-like experience for other guests . Information and tickets are available at shaqfoundation.org. Guests must be fully immunized to participate.
Atlanta is the other city the foundation is focusing on as O’Neal is spending the NBA season in Atlanta as a broadcaster on TNT’s âInside the NBAâ.
âThe mission of the foundation is really to provide resources and opportunities for children in need,â Uyehara said. âGrowing up, Shaquille had working parents and he frequented the Boys & Girls Club and said many times that it was a safe place for him after school, a place to get homework help and play sports. He has been a supporter for over two decades now.
The O’Neal Foundation recently helped open a new Boys & Girls Club in Atlanta. Here in Las Vegas, the organization has partnered with one of O’Neal’s brand partners, Icy Hot, to provide grants to high school athletic programs affected by COVID, specifically Bonanza, Rancho and Desert Pines.
âWe heard from schools that weren’t able to do their normal fundraising through events and ticket sales for football and basketball games, and on top of that, they had additional spending, âsaid Uyehara, who also noted that the foundation is currently working with the City of Las Vegas to renovate a basketball court near the Doolittle Community Center.
The event promises to raise more money to do good in the local community.
“With the stature of Shaquille and [celebrity] friends, he was able to get some pretty amazing artists for the first year and we couldn’t be more thrilled, âUyehara said. “They are giving of their time and it is a very big request, but they also believe in our mission.”