This year, in Italy, in addition to the warmth of the last summer weeks and to the approaching of the grape harvest, the month of September will have in store a great event that will warm many hearts, a complex and ambitious project related to solidarity which we are excitedly and happily looking forward to.
I would like to share with you this new challenge, an exciting challenge the will take place in my beloved Tuscany and that we are ready to welcome…An event starring one of the most important nonprofit overseas Institutions the Celebrity Fight Night Foundation that has been active in fund raising for the past twenty years, particularly in favor of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center that it has helped in creating and growing: CFN that from the 3rd to 8th of September will, for the first time, move from USA to Tuscany proposing a benefit trip full of music, art and beauty events.
My wife and I, along with the staff of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, will host it. Many friends, my personal ones and the ones of CFN have responded to the invitation from Sofia Loren to George Clooney, from Zubin Mehta to Lionel Richie, from Reba McEntire to David Foster and Michelle Hunziker. So this is a charity initiative that promises to be unprecedented, starting from the guest parterre to the proceeds whichwill support ABF and the Muhammad Ali Foundation.
It is a wonderful opportunity to help many people in a concrete way: in our case the Celebrity Fight Night represents a key step to achieving some ABF projects of Empowering People and Community, especially in Haiti, a land we particularly love, Haiti, for the education and care of the children who live in that wonderful and unfortunate island. Haiti where three schools funded by ABF are growing, day after day; after the schools we are going to tackle a new challenge: bring water, electricity development to the families and to the Communities of our children.
For further information on the event please see CFN site (www.celebrityfightnight.org/Content/Italy2014/Default.aspx), while for the ABF projects which will be achieved thanks to this event, you can follow us on our site www.andreabocellifoundation.org.
If we have the joy to host here in Italy Celebrity Fight Night, we owe it to a chance meeting (with Jimmy Walker the Founder of CFN) which has triggered a double, great friendship, whose birth I would like to share with you.
It happened some years ago: an elevator is ready to go up. Jimmy is there, in my memory, behind the sliding doors of the cabin while they are going to close. I go up and down, in the hotel that overlooks Central Park, as if it were my second home: on the top floor there is my refuge in New York – a muffled place where to rest and study – It seems to be on the peak of a forest but, on the contrary, it is in the heart or better, in the navel of the world. The elevator is going to go up, behind it there is Jimmy and his hand that chooses to slip between the doors to stop their closing in extremis. He enters between me and my companion Veronica, a sudden and unexpected mate during our rise.
Taking advantage of the forced intimacy and without wasting time (despite our expectations at that point very pessimistic) he does not turn out to be a robber; he does not want our wallets, but he is asking for a confirmation of his suppositions “Are you Bocelli”?
After expressing his strong admiration for the results of my profession, he told us to be a friend and a cooperator of Muhammad Ali. A few minutes later, after breaking the ice, we got aware of the happy circumstance that would take me, in the following days, just to Phoenix for a concert.
This way was born the friendship with Jimmy that gave me the possibility to meet his friend, my myth Muhammad Ali. Two days later, on the occasion of the birthday of Lonnie Ali, thanks to Jimmy, we were able, unexpected guests, to wish her a happy birthday with music, in front of the astonished faces of her husband and family. Thanks to Jimmy, even my idol broke the silence asking as a prayer («Sing for me») something I could honor with a great joy, dedicating him an Italian melody a cappella, while my voice was choking with emotion.
Even Jimmy is a champion: his Celebrity Fight Night Foundation has been fighting and winning indifference, looking for increasingly ambitious goals, to offer practical help to those who are suffering, and to those who are less fortunate. With Jimmy, also ABF has recently established a fruitful cooperation, in a virtuous circle of philanthropy that, at its origin still has two sliding doors that, luckily, did not close.
For some years with great pleasure, I have contributed to the CFN events. And this time, in the name of the friendship and esteem that binds me to Jimmy, and with Muhammad Ali’s blessing, the event has been brought to our Country.
The Italian Celebrity Fight Night will see the participation of over a hundred American tycoons, billionaires, who will reach Tuscany – by means of a private flight –The stay in Tuscany will provide a series of initiatives to show them the best of art, culture and entertainment, thanks to friends like the Cavalli and Ferragamo families who will open the doors of their homes, or the maisons Ricci Pucci and Scervino.
Florence will host the Gala that will close the event on Sunday 7th September 2014. We will be guests of the Comune of Florence, in the wonderful Salone dei Cinquecento of Palazzo Vecchio. A prestigious Location, and a veritable treasure trove of paintings and sculptures, which well expresses the uniqueness of this event. During the Gala at Palazzo Vecchio, I will have the honor to perform under the baton of Maestro Mehta who will conduct the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
While on September 5th, in the course of an evening organized in our home in Forte dei Marmi, we will have the honor to celebrate in advance Sofia Loren’s birthday, a few days before the whole world does.
We are getting close to the first week of September and to the CFN Event, and as I said before, with great excitement and a certain trepidation. But we have on our side, to mitigate the anxiety for such a complex project, the certainty of having dealt with it the most seriously possible, with as much effort as possible.
By the way, let me share with you how proud I am, of all the tireless work that my wife Veronica, along with the President of the ABF Laura Biancalani and her team have done in recent months.