The event resembled a reunion of the top NBC Winter Olympics broadcasters Tom Brokaw and Bob Costas, but it was actually a night at the Miami International Film Festival when they both walked the red carpet for the world premiere of the new documentary "An Unbreakable Bond."
The new film tells the story of the struggles and triumphs of NFL Hall of Famer Linebacker Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc, who was paralyzed as a 19-year-old by a football injury and the father's quest to see his son walk again. It also tells the story of Buoniconti's establishment of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which has grown into a major scientific and research foundation devoted to finding the cure for spinal cord injury.
Emilio Estefan, the multiple Grammy award-winning musician producer who made the documentary and his famous wife, Gloria, who served as the narrator, were also at the premiere. "The last thing you need in Miami is for someone from New York to introduce you to the Estefans," Brokaw joked as he welcomed the couple to the stage of the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts.
According to Brokaw, the Buoniconti's story, and their founding of the Miami Project exemplify a broader message about America. "This story is a reminder of how this country was built. It was built on big ideas that unite us, not small ideas that divide us," Brokaw said. "There are lessons to be learned form this story that go beyond what you see on the screen," he added.
Also on hand was Herman Jacobs, the football player on the Citadel's opposing East Tennessee State team, who collided with Marc Buoniconti in the accident. That a smiling Jacobs was also at the premiere might seem surprising, but not to anyone who sees the film, which tells of the deep friendship that he and Marc now share.
Many of those in the audience were people who know firsthand what it is like to live with a spinal cord injury. These included Sabrina Cohen, the nationally known health activist. "The film did an excellent job at explaining how much work has gone into this trying to find a cure for paralysis but yet how much more work needs to be done," Cohen said. "The film did a great job of balancing hope with reality," added Cohen. Paralyzed at the age of 14, she heads the Sabrina Cohen Foundation, which works to improve the lives of those with spinal cord injuries.
But perhaps the most telling reality about life for people with spinal cord injuries was not the people who were at the premiere but the one person who wasn't able to be present - Marc Buoniconti. Although he was said to be "thrilled" by the documentary about his life, Marc could not attend because he was in the hospital undergoing a surgical procedure, yet another legacy of the accident he suffered on the football field 27 years ago.
More info: Miami International Film Festival