12th Annual Stand Up for Heroes Kicks off New York Comedy Festival and Raises Over $5.4M for Bob Woodruff Foundation

Honoring our nation’s military veterans through laughter and music, the 12th Annual Stand Up for Heroes raised more than $5.4 million for the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), in front of a sold-out crowd at the Hulu 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 Jimmy Carr, Eric Church, Jim Gaffigan, Seth Meyers, Bruce Springsteen, and Jon Stewart. Musician Grace Gaustad sang the National Anthem. The evening ended with two duets – first with Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, and then a surprise performance by Springsteen and Eric Church.

Notable attendees included His Excellency Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States of America; Sheikha Alya Al-Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United Nations; actress Mariska Hargitay; Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger; Katherine Willis from National Geographic Channel’s “The Long Road Home; Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner; ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz; Senior NBC Foreign Correspondent Keir Simmons;  and ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams.

Also taking the stage were veterans who inspired both the crowd, and over 50 fellow veterans and their loved ones seated in the front rows. Among the powerful stories of recovery shared during the evening was that of Justin and Kim Lee, US Air Force veterans. The Lee’s, who both struggled with mental health challenges after their service, found healing through Bob Woodruff Foundation-funded programming that provided clinical counseling and peer support. Army veteran Frankie Perez shared his experience of finding renewed purpose during the Walk Of America, walking over 1,000 miles this summer alongside US and UK veterans as part of an international collaboration between US and UK nonprofits raising awareness and funds for veteran mental health needs. The Bob Woodruff Foundation partnered with Walking With The Wounded to establish the expedition.

Returning special guest, General Martin Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took the stage to announce the Qatar Veterans Fund, a new partnership between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the State of Qatar to support veterans and military families. Home to the largest US military base in the Middle East, the State of Qatar, through their Qatar-Harvey Fund, will work with the Bob Woodruff Foundation to provide support to veterans and their families in the areas of Texas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. His Excellency Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States of America, was in attendance for the announcement as well.

At the event, it was also announced that Omaze is offering the opportunity for a lucky fan to win a trip to one of Bruce Springsteen’s final Broadway shows, along with a meet and greet and signed guitar. Proceeds from the contest benefit the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s mission. Entry details are available at Omaze.com/Bruce.

“Lee and I are completely overwhelmed by the continued outpouring of support for our mission—from those who are joining us for the very first time tonight, to the talent on stage—thank you for taking a stand with us,” said Bob Woodruff, co-founder and ABC news correspondent. “Stand Up for Heroes is an opportunity to put aside our differences, to stand together, and honor those who have sacrificed so much for our nation.”

Since its inception in 2007, the Stand Up for Heroes benefit for the BWF has now raised more than $50 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 wounded service members during Bob’s recovery from catastrophic wounds 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.

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.

“Each year, we are in awe of the support and generosity from the performers, audience, and guests who continue to exceed our expectations and help to honor our nation’s veterans,” said Caroline Hirsch, founder of the New York Comedy Festival and Carolines on Broadway, and a Bob Woodruff Foundation board member. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to honor the bravery of our nation’s heroes each year at Stand Up for Heroes.” 

Stand Up for Heroes kicked off the 15th annual New York Comedy Festival, which will run through Sunday, November 11th, at New York City’s most prestigious venues including the Beacon Theatre, Carnegie Hall, Carolines on Broadway, Madison Square Garden, Town Hall and the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, among others. Expanding to seven days this year, the festival will showcase over 200 comedians– including Bill Burr, David Cross, Desus & Mero, Jim Jefferies, Anthony Jeselnik, Jo Koy, Bert Kreischer, Marc Maron, Jason Mewes, Tracy Morgan, Conan O’Brien, Yvonne Orji, and many more. In addition to presenting the very best stand-up, the NYCF has celebrated comedy in all its forms by featuring a myriad of diverse programming that includes podcasts and radio broadcasts, conversations, panel discussions, improv and sketch comedy, film screenings and art installations.

Presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival, the 12th annual Stand Up for Heroes was brought to you by Veterans on Wall Street and supported by founding sponsor GFI Group Inc., the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. This year’s sponsors for Stand Up for Heroes included: Jack Daniel’s, Refinitiv, and Vehicles for Veterans.

The NYCF is made possible by its partners: Citi, Sam Adams, iHeart Radio, NYC Media and Entertainment, New York Magazine, New York Post, Rolling Stone, SiriusXM, Variety and Vulture.

ABOUT STAND UP FOR HEROES

Stand Up for Heroes launched in 2007 as the brainchild of Bob and Lee Woodruff and New York Comedy Festival founders Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox, and is one of New York’s most anticipated nights of hope, healing and laughter, honoring our nation’s injured veterans and their families. Since its inception in 2007, SUFH has raised more than $45 million to create long-lasting, positive outcomes for our nation’s injured veterans, service members and their families. 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 to the Theater at Madison Square Garden in 2013. Over the past 11 years, comedians and performers including Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Ricky Gervais, John Mayer, Seth Meyers, Hasan Minhaj, John Mulaney, Trevor Noah, Conan O’Brien, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, Ray Romano and Robin Williams have taken the stage to advocate for our extraordinary service members.

Stand Up for Heroes is presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) and the New York Comedy Festival (NYCF).

 

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 $57 million to Find, Fund and Shape™ programs that have empowered impacted veterans, service members and their family members, across the nation. For more information, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org or follow us on Twitter at @Stand4Heroes.

 

ABOUT THE NEW YORK COMEDY FESTIVAL

Now in its fifteenth year, the New York Comedy Festival is produced by Carolines on Broadway in association with TBS. The festival has featured the country's top comedians, including Judd Apatow, Hannibal Buress, Bill Burr, 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 Stephen Colbert, Ricky Gervais, John Mayer, Seth Meyers, John Mulaney, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Conan O'Brien, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, and Robin Williams, among others. To date, the “Stand Up for Heroes” events have raised over $45 million. For more information please visit the NYCF website, like the NYCF Facebook page, and follow the NYCF on Twitter, @NYComedyFest.