Celebrity Fight Night was founded by Valley businessman Jimmy Walker in 1994 and has been one of the most successful fundraising events in Arizona and the country, with monies raised going to Barrows Neurological Institute. The event now enters a new era as Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson and Richard J. Stephenson have stepped in to voluntarily lead the organization to new heights, with all raised funds now going to benefit Gateway for Cancer Research.
“The origins of our long-time support of Fight Night are good friendships at the board level, good friendships serving with Jimmy Walker… and Sean Currie, of course, who has run it for a long, long, time,” explains Richard, who founded Cancer Treatment Centers of America in honor of his mother. Thirty years later, he founded Gateway for Cancer Research.
Richard says, “It conducts the research around the world which should be conducted but is not often funded because it doesn’t seem to have immediacy, and that is a huge mistake. The immediacy sits in those garages and other small operations which have breakthrough ideas that can’t get the major funding. We fund those early phases.” Gateway for Cancer Research has provided $100 million in funding to start-ups which have gone on to gain support from major pharma or interested industries and get to the cancer patient’s bedside quickly, helping to prolong or save lives.
Richard then turned the comments over to his wife, Stacie for further insight. “It really was a merge and new mandate… Basically the timing had come also for the CFN Organization with the passing of Muhammad (Ali),” says Dr. Stacie, who is the CEO of VibrantDoc, Chair of Functional Medicine for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Vice Chair for Gateway for Cancer Research. “They didn’t have the direction and the passion or his celebrity behind them anymore and that was becoming a little bit of a struggle.” She relays that the mission is critical, and the health issue of cancer touches every person at some point during their lives.
The Stephensons have witnessed years of good work by Celebrity Fight Night and recognized its enormous philanthropic presence here and across the country. Through conversations with Walker and Currie, the couple will now carry on the legacy of Celebrity Fight Night under its new name, Gateway Celebrity Fight Night. Although Walker has moved on to another passion project, Currie has taken on the position of executive director at Gateway for Cancer Research. The huge event that attracts celebrities and attention from around the globe will take place Saturday, March 12 at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa. For additional information, visit www.celebrityfightnight.org.
The philanthropic couple owns homes in several places around the world and Dr. Stacie loves that she can play with different styles in each of their homes. The Stephensons call Paradise Valley home for part of the year and have created a gorgeous and peaceful retreat. “When we were first married, Dick said to me, ‘Do you want to look for a home in Arizona?’ And I am not a desert person. I love being by the water. But I actually fell in love out here… The mountains, the climate and the people!”
“Our main view in our living room is literally the full span of Camelback Mountain,” says Dr. Stacie. “It is just stunning, and that is this home.” Over the years they have incorporated personalized design touches. Richard loves the soaring 20-foot ceilings and Dr. Stacie appreciates great lighting and lighting fixtures.
“The home has seven fireplaces – All unique, all different and all Texas limestone,” Dr. Stacie says. “I’m an absolute fireplace nut and my designers and my builders thought I was crazy when I kept adding more fireplaces to the home.” She says the fireplaces have a Scottish look about them.
Marble is thoughtfully incorporated throughout the home, too. The dining room includes a stately beamed ceiling and one of the main archways is imported from Italy and includes a touch of gothic design. “It’s a very interesting home, says Dr. Stacie. “It’s a little bit eclectic. It’s got a bit of a Tuscany feel and some Moroccan feel.”
“It took years to install all the marble as well as the wood,” adds Richard. “The doors are three or four inches thick, and not just the front door, but the cabinet doors, too. They’re extraordinarily well-crafted and European… This was the dream house of a major builder here. He worked 12 years to build this house!” The incorporation of an infinity pool is the perfect addition that is an asset to the surrounding views.
If you are planning on attending Gateway Celebrity Fight Night, you are in for a treat and a bunch of surprises. “Be sure to bring your seatbelt!” finishes Richard. To learn how you can get involved in supporting or volunteering with Gateway for Cancer Research, visit www.gatewaycr.org.