Presented by the New York Comedy Festival, the 8th Annual Stand Up for Heroes, a night of comedy and music, returned last night to a sold-out crowd at the Theater at Madison Square Garden to raise more than $6 million in support of post-9/11 injured service members, veterans and their families through the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
Yet unlike past years, the event enlisted the aid of restaurateurs, celebrities and social media to expand awareness well beyond the Garden with the first-ever Dine Out for Heroes and Cause Flash.
“We’ve always been so proud of Stand Up for Heroes and know what can happen when a movement of generosity inspires thousands more to act,” said Bob Woodruff, the ABC news correspondent who co-founded the Bob Woodruff Foundation after he was critically injured by a roadside bomb while reporting from Iraq. “My wife Lee and I are extremely grateful to those who have joined us in our cause to provide our heroes the resources they need.”
Taking the stage last night were Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, John Oliver, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart and Brian Williams. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, surprised the crowd with his rendition of “New York, New York.”
This year’s event surpassed expectations by besting last year. Springsteen helped raise $600,000 alone by auctioning off two guitars, an hour worth of guitar lessons, and homemade lasagna.
Beyond the recognition of nearly 100 injured service members and their caregivers who were seated in the theater’s front rows, the audience was inspired by the story of Marine Capt. Derek Herrera. Paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet in 2012, while on patrol in Afghanistan, Herrera walked across the stage through the use of an exo-skeleton. The entire crowd stood on its feet during the inspirational interview.
During the show, celebrities including Conan O’Brien, Sting and Billy Joel urged the world to “take a #Stand4Heroes” via Facebook and Twitter—reaching 50 million so far through a Cause Flash which launched at 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, nearly 200 restaurants signed on to donate $1 for every diner served yesterday. Dine Out for Heroes was spearheaded by Peter and Penny Glazier, founders of the Glazier Group of restaurants, which includes Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC in Grand Central Terminal.
Stand Up for Heroes has helped the Bob Woodruff Foundation invest more than $22 million in programs across the country. With 46,000 nonprofits serving veterans in the United States, the Bob Woodruff Foundation prides itself on navigating that maze to find, find and shape innovative programs in three key areas: Education and Employment; Rehabilitation and Recovery; and Quality of Life.
“I continue to be overwhelmed by the incredible response to Stand Up for Heroes year after year,” says Caroline Hirsch, founder and owner of the New York Comedy Festival and Carolines on Broadway. “When we conceived this event eight years ago, we had high hopes for raising awareness and funds for the Bob Woodruff Foundation. The outpouring of support has far exceeded our greatest expectations.”
Stand Up for Heroes, brought to you by Veterans on Wall Street (VOWS), a consortium of financial firms and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, and supported by founding sponsor GFI Group, Inc. is one of the centerpiece events of the 11th annual New York Comedy Festival, running through Nov. 9, at venues throughout New York City. The NYCF’s schedule will consist of more than 200 comedians—including — Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Dane Cook, Bill Cosby, Chris D’Elia, Bill Maher, Marc Maron, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, and Amy Schumer, performing in over 60 shows at iconic New York City venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Beacon Theatre, Town Hall, and the NYU Skirball Center.
This year’s sponsors for Stand Up for Heroes included: Veterans on Wall Street, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, GFI Group, Inc., A+E Networks, Havas PR & Havas Health, Hero Miles, Jack Daniels, JetBlue, JWT, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Toyota and 21st Century FOX.
About the Bob Woodruff Foundation:
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) is the nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring injured service members and their families are thriving long after they return home. A national organization with grassroots reach, the Bob Woodruff Foundation complements the work of the federal government —diligently navigating the maze of more than 46,000 nonprofits providing services to veterans—finds, funds and shapes innovative programs, and holds them accountable for results. To date, BWF has invested more than $22 million in public education and solutions, reaching more than 2 million service members, support personnel, veterans and their families. The Bob Woodruff Foundation was co-founded in 2006 by award-winning anchor Bob Woodruff and his family, whose own experiences inspired them to help make sure the nation’s heroes have access to the high level of support and resources they deserve, for as long as they need it. For more information about the Bob Woodruff Foundation, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org.
About the New York Comedy Festival:
Now in its eleventh 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 Louis C.K., Bill Maher, Ricky Gervais, Larry David, John Mulaney, Kevin Hart, Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari, 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 Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, Ricky Gervais, Conan O’Brien, Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer, among others. To date, the “Stand Up for Heroes” events have raised over $21 million. For more information please visit the NYCF website, www.nycomedyfestival.com, like the NYCF Facebook page, www.facebook.com/newyorkcomedyfestival, and follow the NYCF on Twitter, @NYComedyFest.
About Veterans on Wall Street:
In December 2010, in an unprecedented move, several of the world’s largest financial institutions launched Veterans on Wall Street (“VOWS”), a confederation of firms who are committed to help support, educate and recruit military veterans and their families as they transition in to the civilian workplace. By organizing ourselves, sharing best practices and, importantly, engaging our corporate and investing clients, VOWS strives to make a material difference in the experience of our veterans as they transition out of the military. In addition to our efforts to support charitable organizations focused on our transitioning military and their families, VOWS is committed to lowering the exceptionally high unemployment rate among our military veteran community. Through a combination of educational initiatives, mentoring, outreach to the military, employee affinity groups, and an annual conference, VOWS promotes career development, support, and retention of veterans throughout the global financial services industry. Central to the VOWS mission is the recognition that many of the skills veterans developed in the military–leadership, fast and accurate decision–making, operational focus, and the drive to accomplish a mission–have a direct application in the financial services industry. VOWS also recognizes that the cultural values our veterans have developed in the military—passion, drive, commitment, and teamwork—mesh with the corporate values sought after and practiced in financial services. VOWS works with military organizations, veterans groups, industry associations and vendors to build awareness and understanding of how these skills and cultural attributes make military veterans outstanding employees.
About the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation:
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation is committed to achieving lasting and meaningful change in our community through four main areas of focus: education, children’s health, veterans, and the arts. The Foundation places an emphasis on improving the lives of children through education reform and healthcare initiatives, providing help to our returning heroes with mental health and employment programs for veterans, and supporting the arts that inspire us all.
About GFI Group Inc.:
GFI Group Inc. (NYSE: GFIG) is a leading intermediary in the global OTC and Listed markets offering an array of sophisticated trading technologies and products to a broad range of financial market participants. More than 2,500 institutional clients benefit from GFI’s know-how and experience in operating electronic and hybrid markets for cash and derivative products across multiple asset classes, including fixed income, interest rates, foreign exchange, equities, energy and commodities. GFI’s brands include Trayport®, a leading provider of trading solutions for energy markets worldwide and FENICS ®, a market leader in FX options software.
Founded in 1987 and headquartered in New York, GFI employs over 2,000 people globally, with additional offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Nyon, Dublin, Madrid, Sugar Land (TX), Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Manila, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Cape Town, Santiago, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima and Mexico City.
PHOTO CREDIT: Stefan Radtke