For the past several years, one of the cornerstone events for Super Bowl weekend is the Legends for Charity Dinner. Each year, it honors a sports broadcaster with the coveted Pat Summerall Award. While the broadcasters get the credit, it’s actually a cheerleader who helps keep the event running.
Cheryl Deleonardis is a former Dolphins Cheerleader who worked with the team in three Super Bowls when the franchise was on top of the football world in the 1970’s. “As a matter of fact, they haven’t won a Super Bowl since Don Shula and I stood on the sidelines,” Cheryl said. “So you need to get back out there. Put on the uniform. I don’t know about that, but I’ll stand with them.”
While Cheryl may not be cheering, she is still involved with the NFL. She created the Legends for Charity Dinner. In 2005, the award went to Pat Summerall, just six months after his life was saved from a liver transplant in Jacksonville.
The response to her award was overwhelming and spurred Cheryl on to continue honoring sports broadcasters with the award, which would be called the Pat Summerall Award. Each year, Cheryl works hand in hand with Pat to pick the honoree.
“I know more about the honoree then they know about themselves,” Cheryl said.
Past recipients of the award include: Greg Gumbel, Chris Berman, and Jim Nantz. “I have this saying in Augusta, a tradition unlike any other,” Nantz said. “She is an event organizer, charity planner, unlike any other. She really knows how to get things done.”
Cheryl draws inspiration for the contest from her father. “He had a dream for this (community) center. He worked tirelessly for six years while holding a full-time job to make this happen,” Cheryl revealed.
Her father passed away before Cheryl started the Legends for Charity events, but she says he would be proud. “I do stand back at end of event and go ‘wow,'” Cheryl said. “Look at this. It’s all going for such a great cause.”
The money raised from the event goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. At Cheryl’s home office, there are pictures and letters from the kids at St. Jude telling her thanks. “It’s very, very heartwarming to get something like this from these kids who don’t know me. Makes it all worthwhile,” Cheryl said.