United Way of America, the National Football League and the Detroit Lions will host a halftime spectacular on Thanksgiving (Nov. 22) at the Pontiac Silverdome. The 62nd annual Thanksgiving Day Game will feature the Lions against the Green Bay Packers. But, halftime will belong to United Way and entertainment personalities Enrique Iglesias, The Winans and Mathew Broderick. Singing the national anthem will be Warner Brothers recording artist Josh Groban.
Approximately 500 children and adults from Metro Detroit will participate in the halftime program that will salute "heroes" and will kickoff a season of thanks to millions of NFL fans and United Way donors and volunteers across America. The show also will celebrate the nation's longest, most successful public service campaign. The NFL and United Way joined hands with its first public service announcements in 1973. Since then the ongoing campaign has featured more than 1,000 television spots and hundreds of NFL players, coaches and owners promoting the community services funded by United Way. Lions' defensive tackle Luther Elliss in Detroit's NFL United Way spokesman.
The special Thanksgiving halftime will feature live performances by Iglesias singing his current hit song "Hero" and The Winans, Detroit natives, singing "Together We Stand." On videotape from New York City, motion picture and Broadway star Mathew Broderick will do a special salute to today's heroes. United Way volunteers from throughout Metro Detroit including the youth choir from Mt. Zion Church of Ecorse (Mich.) will support Iglesias, The Winans and Broderick on the field.
Iglesias' recently released album "Escape" features the hit ballad "Hero" that he sang on the nationally telecast tribute and fundraiser for the victims of the September 11 tragedies. In 1999, his album "Enrique" went double platinum selling six million copies worldwide. Enrique's overall album sales total more than 23 million and have achieved gold or platinum status in 32 countries.
His recording success comes as little surprise. The Madrid, Spain born recording star, who grew up in Miami, is the third child of international singer Julio Iglesias.
The Winans, born and raised in Detroit, began singing in their local church and have been recording since 1981. Their recordings have earned them acclaim as multi-Grammy Award winners.
Groban is a bright new star on the horizon. He has appeared on the Fox hit show "Ally McBeal" and has toured with Sarah Brightman. This month the 20-year-old vocalist is featured with Charlotte Church on her PBS Special and will appear on the Ally McBeal Christmas Show, December 10.
Heroes also will be honored in special pre-game ceremonies. Lions' linebacker and New York (Long Island) native Stephen Boyd and the Lions are hosting a New York City firefighter and policeman who were extensively involved in the rescue, relief and clean-up efforts following the World Trade Center tragedies. Boyd's uncle, Lt. John Esposito of Ladder 158, Engine 311 in the Queens, will participate in pre-game ceremonies as will Bronx Police Detective Jerry Cunningham. They will be introduced to the sold-out Silverdome crowd prior to kickoff. Boyd and the Lions will fly Esposito, Cunningham and their families to Detroit and will host them at the game.
Immediately after the September 11 tragedies, Boyd collected $139,610 from his teammates, coaches and the Lions' front office for two New York City relief funds for the widows and children of fallen firefighters and police the Uniformed Firefighter's Association and the New York Centurion Foundation.