Celebrating a decade of laughter and music and honoring our nation’s injured service members, the 10th Annual Stand Up for Heroes raised more than $6.4 million for the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), in front of a sold-out crowd at the Theater at Madison Square Garden last night.
Presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival (NYCF), the star-studded event included performances by Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Stewart. Phillip Phillips sang the National Anthem. Notable attendees included Gen. Martin Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, actor Adam Driver, “Star Wars VII,” himself a Marine veteran, actress Bridget Moynahan, chef Alex Guarnaschelli, CNN New Day’s Chris Cuomo, ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, and Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC Partners Chairman and CEO Howard Lutnik and his wife Allison Lutnik.
Also taking the stage were injured veterans who had delivered speeches during prior years—inspiring the crowd, and the nearly 100 fellow veterans and their loved ones seated in the front rows. Among the powerful stories of recovery shared during the evening was that of Air Force Master Sergeant Israel Del Toro. Badly burned by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, he clung to life to keep his promise to his young son that he would return home. Both took the stage and received a standing ovation.
“After 15 years of war, it’s far too easy to forget those who’ve served, and continue to serve,” said Bob Woodruff, co-founder and ABC news correspondent. “Lee and I are completely overwhelmed by the continued outpouring of support for our mission—from those who purchased tickets to the talent on stage—we can’t thank them enough for taking a stand with us.”
Beyond comedy and music, the performers also took to the stage to help raise funds through an auction. Springsteen’s guitar was auctioned off for $280,000. Harley-Davidson donated a one of a kind, customized 2017 Fat Boy S. The comedians all pitched in to help push the bidding to $150,000. More items are available for bid online at www.charitybuzz.com/bobwoodrufffoundation.
Since its inception in 2007, the benefit for BWF has now raised nearly $40 million to create long-lasting positive outcomes for our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured veterans, service members and their families.
In 2006, Bob and Lee Woodruff found themselves facing similar challenges to injured service members during Bob’s recovery from injuries sustained by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq for ABC News. Inspired by their experiences, they resolved to ensure that our nation’s heroes have access to the same level of support and resources.
Since then, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has established itself as a leader in the veteran community by forging partnerships at the highest levels of government, military, business and philanthropy. Beyond reaching more than 2.5 million veterans, service members and their family members, investments in programs have bolstered hundreds of nonprofits serving veterans.
Stand Up for Heroes became the brainchild of the Woodruffs and New York Comedy Festival founders Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox as a tribute to these heroes.
“We are thrilled that the 10th anniversary of Stand Up for Heroes was marked by such a wonderful event,” said Caroline Hirsch, Bob Woodruff Foundation board member and founder of the New York Comedy Festival and Carolines on Broadway. “We are honored that the performers continue to dedicate their time to recognize this important cause, and we look forward to another ten years celebrating comedy and music and honoring our injured service members and their families with the Bob Woodruff Foundation.”
In recognition of the 10th year, the Empire State Building was ceremoniously lit red, white and blue from the stage by Hirsch.
Stand Up for Heroes continues to expand and grow due to its remarkable success. Beginning at Town Hall the event moved to the Beacon Theater in 2010, and landed at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in 2013. Over the past ten years, comedians and performers including Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Ricky Gervais, John Mayer, Seth Meyers, Conan O’Brien, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Brian Regan, Ray Romano and Robin Williams have taken the stage to advocate for extraordinary servicemen and women. Bruce Springsteen has performed at every Stand Up for Heroes.
Stand Up for Heroes kicked off the 13th annual New York Comedy Festival, which runs through Sunday, November 6. The NYCF’s schedule consists of more than 200 comedians playing in over 60 shows at iconic New York City venues such as the Apollo Theater, Beacon Theatre, Carnegie Hall, Carolines on Broadway, Madison Square Garden, The Theater at MSG and Town Hall. Some headliners of the 2016 New York Comedy Festival include Eric André, Fred Armisen, Hannibal Buress, Dane Cook, Chris D’Elia, Cameron Esposito, Bridget Everett, Hari Kondabolu, Bill Maher, Marc Maron, T.J. Miller, Tim Minchin, Tracy Morgan, Trevor Noah, Tig Notaro and Patton Oswalt.
Presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival, the 10th annual Stand Up for Heroes was brought to you by Veterans on Wall Street and supported by founding sponsor GFI Group Inc., and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. This year’s sponsors for Stand Up for Heroes included: The Paul E. Singer Foundation, Craig Newmark Foundation, Jack Daniel’s, J. Walter Thompson, HAVAS PR & HAVAS Health, JetBlue, Thomson Reuters, and Toyota.
ABOUT THE BOB WOODRUFF FOUNDATION
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) was founded in 2006 after reporter Bob Woodruff was hit by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. Since then, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has led an enduring call to action for people to stand up for heroes and meet the emerging and long term-needs of today’s veterans. To date, BWF has invested more than $33 million to find, fund and shape programs that have empowered more than 2.5 million impacted veterans, service members and their families. For more information, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org or follow us on Twitter at @Stand4Heroes.
ABOUT THE NEW YORK COMEDY FESTIVAL
Now in its thirteenth year, the New York Comedy Festival is produced by Carolines on Broadway in association with Comedy Central. The festival has featured the country’s top comedians, including Aziz Ansari, Judd Apatow, Hannibal Buress, Bill Burr, Louis C.K., Margaret Cho, Billy Crystal, Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Kathy Griffin, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Norm Macdonald, Bill Maher, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, and Wanda Sykes, to name a few. In 2007, the festival launched the “Stand Up for Heroes” event to benefit The Bob Woodruff Foundation, which has featured performances by Ricky Gervais, John Mayer, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Conan O’Brien, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, and Robin Williams, among others. To date, the “Stand Up for Heroes” events have raised nearly $40 million. For more information please visit the NYCF website, like the NYCF Facebook page, and follow the NYCF on Twitter, @NYComedyFest. This year the festival has a new hashtag — #MakeNYLaugh — for use in all of its social media platforms.