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Hard Rock event raises $750K for Ukraine

Evander Holyfield, right, and emcee Aaron Shapiro show off a pair of boxing gloves signed and donated by Holyfield. (Photo Tom Craig)

The Hard Rock Heals Foundation has raised $750,000 for those who have faced challenges due to the war in Ukraine, according to a May 4 news release.

About 1,000 people attended a gala dinner and auction April 22 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood to raise the funds. Organizers said the amount raised was the largest ever raised at a charity event by the foundation, which is the nonprofit arm of Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming.

“[Thank you] from the bottom of my heart for all of you joining us for just a remarkable cause,” Seminole Gaming’s chief operating officer David Hoenemeyer said to attendees.

Hollywood, Florida, resident and former Ukrainian heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko hosted the event, which also featured entertainment.

“Thank you for all the feelings and the empathy that you are giving us in Ukraine,” Klitschko said to attendees. “All the funds that are raised are going to help us in Ukraine to overcome these challenging times.”

Items auctioned at the event included a pair of track shoes donated by eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, and a pair of boxing gloves donated and signed by former heavyweight champion boxer Evander Holyfield. Holyfield, who was at the event, also donated a one-hour boxing lesson as part as part of an auction package.

American punk rock band Gogol Bordello and its front man, Eugene Hutz, performed their signature “gypsy punk” music. Hutz was born in Ukraine and grew up on the outskirts of its capital, Kyiv, before immigrating with his parents to the U.S. when he was 16 years old. Organizers said he is an outspoken supporter of Ukraine and has organized fundraising events with his band.

The Seminole Tribe is the parent entity of Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming. For more information, go to and

Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello performs at the event. (Photo Tom Craig)
Host Wladimir Klitschko, middle, talks with Ukrainian soldiers Artem Moroz, left, and Serhii Andriishyn, right, at the event. (Photo Tom Craig)
The Guitar Hotel at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood was lit Feb. 24 in blue and yellow – the colors of the Ukrainian flag – to mark one year since the start of the war. (Courtesy Hard Rock)