Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 | 11:18 p.m.
Aside from being known as the father of the mega-resort, Kirk Kerkorian has had an enormous impact on the life of Andre Agassi. The Las Vegas resident and tennis star's middle name is in tribute to Kerkorian, who on Saturday night made his grandest gesture of all: donating $18 million to the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education at the 16th annual Grand Slam for Children.
The gift from Kerkorian, announced from the stage by a tearful Agassi, brought the night's total to $26.1 million. Aside from the $27 million raised at the 2010 Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Power of Love gala, it is believed to be the largest amount ever raised during a single-night charity event in Las Vegas.
Entertainment for the audience of more than 1,000 at Wynn Las Vegas' Lafite Ballroom was Smokey Robinson, Martina McBride, Jimmy Kimmel, Jeffrey Ross, Train, "Britain's Got Talent" winners Signature and Michael Buble.
In an interview days before the event, Agassi said enough money had been raised for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy so that "we’ve crossed the threshold of funding our school in perpetuity. That has been the goal, to keep taking us closer to being able to fund my school forever, as a gift to the community, and we’re at the point now where it will live long past all of us.”
Whether or not there will be Grand Slam for Children events of the same scope as the previous 15 held in Las Vegas, he said, "We look at it one year at a time, not X amount of years. The need to have to do it has always been there, that particular concern that we want to benefit the academy. But there are a lot of synergies we have built, partnerships, and it is a great evening for the community. We’ll get through this and size it up, but the mission is to expand what I’ve done in Vegas and scale this across the country, and we’ll need support to do that.”