Superstar Jamie Foxx soon will jet into the Twin Cities to host one of the Super Bowl’s most exclusive, star-studded parties — in Edina, of course.
Foxx will host the Big Game Big Give party on Feb. 3 at the Edina home of Novu CEO and philanthropist Tom Wicka and his wife, Angie. Party proceeds will go to a dozen Minnesota charities and a national fund designed to promote philanthropy.
Organizer Marc Pollick promises a who’s who of A-list celebrities, pro athletes and Olympians, including NBA great Shaquille O’Neal. There are only 500 tickets to the exclusive fete, selling for $3,000 apiece. To attend, guests must be invited by an organizing committee member or be an event sponsor.
“It really puts philanthropy center stage on arguably the world’s biggest stage,” said Pollick, CEO of the Giving Back Fund, which hosts the event. “It will be elegant and exclusive and all proceeds will go to charity.”
Pollick started the Big Game Big Give event a decade ago to help raise money for his national nonprofit and local charities in each host community. It’s grown to become one of the Super Bowl weekend’s most sought-after tickets, promising guests a chance to belly up to the bar or rub elbows on the couch with athletes and celebs, Pollick said.
Big names from years past include actor Mark Wahlberg, actress Hilary Swank, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, former NFL quarterback Joe Montana and rapper/actor Common.
The 2017 Big Game Big Give in Houston, hosted by actor Josh Brolin, raised more than $1 million. This year’s goal is $1.3 million.
The party will have some distinctive Minnesota touches including a Surly beer pong table, a series of lifestyle rooms sponsored by Cambria, ice sculptures and an ice structure where a 2019 Aston Martin Vantage sports car will be displayed and auctioned off for charity. The Giving Back Fund also will recognize Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz for donating $1 million to charity in his first two years in the NFL.
Guests will move between the main house and a large heated tent. What to wear? “It will be sophisticated with a North twist — perhaps hats and interesting outerwear,” Tom Wicka said.
Pollick said philanthropy is his second career. He did graduate work in Holocaust studies at Boston University, conducted research for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and founded a Holocaust center in Miami.
On a trip to Washington, Pollick read a newspaper article about how celebrity foundations were imploding from mismanagement. He knew the power of celebrity, having helped author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel set up a foundation.
So Pollick established Giving Back to help stars, musicians, athletes, corporations and even ordinary people set up effective charities. Some of his first clients were former Boston Celtics guard Dee Brown, former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, pop stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
“I started out my life trying to defeat the evil in the world by teaching about the Holocaust ... [and] I switched to try to inspire more good in the world and have had greater success with that,” Pollick said.
The Wickas said they agreed to host the philanthropic event in honor of their son Nash, who died last April at the age of 18 of complications from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle-wasting disease. They started the Nash Avery Foundation, which focuses on treatment and research for curing Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
The Big Game Big Give event especially resonated with Angie Wicka, her husband said.
“She’s as proud a Minnesotan as they come,” Tom Wicka said. “She very much thinks this is in line with her son and finds it’s a way to celebrate him.”