The Women's Sports Foundation announce 'The Billies' awards at Tiffany and Co. Beverly Hills.

Valentines Day is coming, but it wasn't that which drew a crowd to Tiffany and Co. last evening, though it was something with a great amount of heart. In the evening of Tuesday February 7th, 2006 at the Beverly Hills Tiffany and Co., the Women's Sports Foundation announced the official launch of The Billies. This is the inaugural year for this important award that recognizes media excellence in the portrayal of women in sports and physical activity.

Marcia Cross,Desperate Housewives; Billie Jean King, tennis legend and Founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation ; Nellie Seddigh, Vice President, Tiffany & Co

It is clear that everyone in one way or another has been affected by the power of the media. Be it a positive or negative message, we quite often take it to heart, and form our own ideas as to where we fit as individuals in society.  This can do more harm than good, but sometimes, it goes the other way around.
That is why the Billies are such an important award. The Billies are granted in honor of Billie Jean King, founder of the Women Sports Foundation, and one of the most celebrated tennis players in history. Billie Jean King has dedicated her life to achieving equality for women in sports and in doing so was named one of the '100 Most Important American's in the 20th Century' by Life Magazine.

The Billies award goes to honor fundamentally ground breaking portrayal of women by networks, corporations and individuals who present media driven images to people across the world. The nominees will be honored in these four categories: Journalism, Entertainment, Influential Personality and Breakthrough and Innovation. . 

The Women's Sports Foundation was founded in 1974 and for over 30 years has been dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. As a non-profit charitable educational organization, the Women's Sports Foundation have awarded over 50 million in educational and cash grants to increase participation, research and leadership sports and physical activity.  Every week the foundation distributes $10,000 to $20,000 in grants that provide opportunities for economically disadvantaged and inactive girls to participate in sports and physical activity.

Tiffany and Co. not only was the setting for last nights kick off event, it is also the official award sponsor and designer of the Billies award.  'Tiffany and Co. is proud to work with the Women's Sports Foundation and their initiative to honor media that supports the contributions and accomplishments of female athletes.' Nellie Seddigh, Vice President, Tiffany and Co.

Star athletes from past and present were there to announce the award nominees and celebrate the Billies. Supporters lined up for photos with Billie Jean King, attending Olympic athletes, and Desperate Housewives Star Marcia Cross. It was a stunning display as models flanked the staircase in glamorous Tiffany and Co. jewelry pieces.

Jessica Mendoza, Olympic softball player; Tania Satchwell, Motocross Women’s Pro National Champion; Nellie Seddigh, Vice President, Tiffany & Co.; Billie Jean King, tennis legend and Founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation; and Shannon Boxx, Soccer Olympic Gold Medalist.

Guests gathered around the staircase as Jessica Mendoza, Olympic gold medalist softball player, gave the official announcement. Jessica  was an Olympian three times, winning gold in 2004. Jessica then introduced the woman who spearheaded the movement for equality for females in sports, Billie Jean King. It was an inspirational and appreciative address as Billie Jean King acknowledged attendees who have paved the way for her and other women to participate in sport. As Billie Jean King spoke to the audience you couldn't help but be moved by her passion and her lifelong dedication to achieving  as she said 'be on equal footing, all of us'.

The Billies awards will be presented at a black-tie benefit dinner gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 20th 2006. It will be a can't miss event starting with cocktail reception, dinner and awards ceremony, then a grand finale as Grammy Award winning Sir Elton John performs live.  Sir Elton John was always a fan of tennis and Billie Jean King, and in 1975 he wrote for her, his song 'Philadelphia Freedom'.

The benefit Co-Chairs include,
Willow Bay, television anchorwoman and her husband CEO of Disney, Bob Iger.
Geena Davis, academy award winning actor and foundation trustee,
Peggy Flemming, Olympic gold medalist figure skate and Billie Jean King.
Honorary co-chairs are Governor Arnold Schwaezenegger and first lady Maria Shriver.

The finalists in each award category were announced last evening and are as follows:
Journalism:
Christine Brennan- Syndicated Sports Columnist and Broadcaster
ESPN for the production of the 2005 Women's Final Four Tournament
Sally Jenkins- Sports Columnist and Feature Writer
Welch Suggs- Author of A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX

Entertainment:
Bend it Like Beckham- Fox Searchlight Studios
Girl Wrestler- Diane Zander,  Producer
HBO Sports- Dare to Dream: The Story of the US Women's Soccer Team
Million Dollar Baby- Warner Bros. Pictures

Breakthrough and Innovation:
ABC Sports- Superstars, Passion to Play series and 1999 Women's World Cup
Gameface- Gameface: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like? Jane Gottesman and Geoffrey Biddle Co-Curators
NIKE- 'If You Let Me Play' and 'Big Butts, Thunder Thighs and Tomboy Knees' Real Women's Print Ad Campaigns

The Influential Personality category nominees are to be announced at the Billies awards.

Proceeds from the benefit go to support The GoGirlGo! Sports initiative of the Women's Sports Foundation that is committed on getting 1 million sedentary girls active across the United States.  The GoGirlGo! Program was a recipient of the 2004 National Health Information Award. The Women's Sports Foundation has a link to it's GoGirlGo! website. The site is an extensive program of education and ideas with a center on issues that are important to the generation. The GoGirlGo! program is  an invaluable resource for girls at a young age. It is a  place where they too can have a part in positively forming an equal foundation for women in sports and physical activity.

There are a number of ways to get involved and be a part of not only an incredible evening but to also have a positive impact with the Women's Sports Foundation.

Tickets to the Billies will be available online through the foundations website at www.womenssportsfoundation.org as of Friday February 10th.
Prior to that date they welcome you to call-
1-800-227-3988 (U.S. only)
Or email
[email protected]

 

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