Event fundraising

Celebrity Fight Night refocuses mission ahead of 2022 event

PHOENIX – Celebrity Fight Night — a high-value event and fundraiser attended by celebrities and athletes typically held annually in Phoenix — is scheduled to return to the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa on March 12, 2022.

This is the first time the event will take place since 2019 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (events did not take place in 2020 or 2021).

The event, which previously raised funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute, among other charities, has since revamped and refocused its mission.

The Celebrity Fight Night Foundation merged last year with Gateway for Cancer Research, an organization that funds grants for the clinical treatment of cancer when traditional treatments have run out or haven’t worked. This means that Celebrity Fight Night will now raise funds only for Gateway for Cancer Research and its clinical treatment grants.

The organization is led by Richard J. Stephenson, president of Gateway for Cancer Research, and Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, vice president of Gateway for Cancer Research. Jimmie Walker, who founded the event 27 years ago, is no longer part of the event organization.

ABC15 spoke with the Stephensons a few weeks ago on Zoom about the new mission and the upcoming event.

“We believe philanthropy should be wonderfully fun, mission-driven. And when you combine those two, you really have magic,” said Dr. Stacie Stephenson.

“We want you to know more about the mission, but we want you to have an incredibly unexpected and fabulous time for the best cause that makes you feel good about your wallet and good about your evening until the moment you leave your car that night,” she said.

Singer Reba McEntire, who has been a part of the event for years, will be back again this year, alongside singer David Foster.

The Stephensons said the merger brings together two powerful organizations with the ability to focus on a single goal – cancer treatment and research – as well as to increase mainstream understanding of what Celebrity Fight Night is all about.

“Our goal with the celebrity experience and influential aspect here this year that’s different is that we want all of our celebrity entertainers and participants to truly have a heart for the cancer mission,” said Dr. Stacie Stephenson . “And so we’re asking all of them to share with Phoenix what their experience with cancer has been like and why they’re joining this cause. They’re joining Gateway’s Celebrity Fight Night to help us lend their voices to research on the cancer.”

Typically, the event includes celebrities, athletes, and other notable people, live performances, food and drink, and various auction items. Individual seats start at $1,500 and tables (10 people) start at $10,000.

Although it will be held at JW Phoenix Desert Ridge this year, the venue may change in the future.

“It’s the people of this valley who supported Celebrity Fight Night, and now Gateway’s Celebrity Fight Night just wants to be a part of that and take it to the moon again,” she said. “So our heart really says it belongs here. Maybe over time looking at different selections of fabulous places here in the valley we think about it, but this time we decided to honor history , you know, to introduce ourselves and our new mission.”