(Ramonda Fisher & Candice Burnett)

Have you ever seen a big man with a heart of Gold? How about athletes and entertainers caring enough to create an organization and unite for the benefit of our youth?

Well, wouldn’t you know, Shaquille O’Neal would be the leader of that pack! His charming, fun-loving and witty personality placed smiles on the hearts and faces of many youngsters, as well as the many other athletes and entertainers who accompanied him!
Shaq hosted his VIIth Annual Shaqtacular event on Saturday, September 21, 2002 from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Barker Hanger in the Santa Monica Airport.
This event all started with Shaq’s desire to birth an idea and ongoing event for the youth in Los Angeles and California to be recognized and served. Their endeavor is to give the less-advantaged youth positive childhood experiences that can motivate them to create futures rooted in success and hope, rather than failure and despair.
Shaq and the AEFK (Athletes & Entertainers For Kids) married to form and launch this “Shaqtacular” event. This event is a fundraiser that has, since its inception, raised over four million dollars, and has become one of the nation’s premiere fundraising efforts and now a televised event.
We can all imagine, for the kids, it was just like that trip to Disneyland they’ve been looking forward to the whole school year, or every year around Christmas time, when they’re so excited with anticipation about finding out if Santa was really listening when they put their order in, they didn’t get any sleep. Well kids, you can sleep now, the day has finally come!
The athletes and entertainers’ were working overtime, signing autographs and trying to talk to every child that attempted to capture their attention. Among the big names were, Shaq of course, his newly acquired Laker teammate & shooting sensation, Tracy Murray, Big-Time Actor & Commissioner of Shaqtacular, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Head Official and well-known Director, Penny Marshall, “One on One” Sensations, Co-Producer, Flex Alexander, Kyla Pratt, and Tichina Arnold, Tae Bo Expert, Billy Blanks, FOX-11 News’ very own Christine Devine, Recording Artist, “Mr. Fantastic Voyage”, Coolio, Celebrity Official & former sidekick of Chong, Cheech Marin, National Anthem singer & Columbia Recording Artist, Jessica Simpson, Olympian & Torch Runner, Carl Lewis, Actor & Comedian, Michael Colyar, B.E.T. “Comic View” Host, Reynoldo Rey, just to name a few.
No one could complain about hunger with the variety of foods and beverages like Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill’s tender beef & chicken grilled to perfection over a live mesquite wood fire with a scrumptious sauce for dipping, along with coleslaw, Naked Juices’ freshly blended fruits & vegetables in a bottle, unlimited ice-cold Dasani spring water and refreshing soda, tasty Japanese cuisine and mouthwatering homemade desserts from sweet potato pies to delicious peach & apple cobblers from Mommie Helen’s Bakery; just like Grandma used to make.
Everyone, especially the kids, enjoyed many fun treats like CIAO BELLA’s ice cream & sorbets, Haagen Dazs ice cream, goodies from Power 106 Ice Cream Truck, and much more.
“Shaqtacular” was a day full of fun, with entertainment for the kids, including everything from jumpers to mini basketball hoops to help them practice their game-winning shots, putt-putt golf, to watching the skateboard competition. The kids built just about everything in Legoland, which had a life size statue of Shaq, made out of legos. ESPN Zone was also on the scene, with a Sports Arena full of games and attractions!
The booth was quite supernating! Kids photos were merged into a super hero scene and evolved into a legend. Thousands of kids have signed up to become super heroes both on-line and in their community.
Lots of kids walked away with “The Hoopster”, a book that is a “slam dunk” for literacy, and they had an opportunity to meet the author, Alan Lawrence Sitomer who signed each and every copy. “The Hoopster” is about a Black teenager named Andre with a bright future. He loves to play basketball, hang out with his friends, and laugh, but everything he ever believed in has been called into question. How does he get back up from his unjust knockdown?
The kids enjoyed watching the Shaqtacular VII games which, included “Shaq Says” presented by title sponsors Coca Cola and Vons, The “Human Whopper Stack” sponsored by Burger King, which was loads of fun to watch. After the celebrity team builds a human 5 ft. diameter burger, they must beat the clock by racing through obstacles. The “Road Rally Race” sponsored by Baja Fresh was an adorable showstopper.
“Shaq’s Superstar’s”, presented by American Express was broken down into eight teams of talented performers. With the Lakers four-peat coming up next year, the winner was hoping to be the hottest act to perform for the parade. This game was not a matter of talent, just creativity and craziness.
The “Shaq Attack Man Of Steel Obstacle Course”, sponsored by Swatch, by far the funniest site to see. Each competitor was dressed in Shaq’s shoes, shorts, shirt and cape. Performing a variety of basketball related stunts and zany non-athletic events. The winner took home the 2002 Shaq Shoe Trophy!
The Shaqtacular VII Team Line-Ups were divided into seven celebrity teams, each with a team captain, which included Coca-Cola led by football great Gary Payton, 1-800-Lawyers led by Comedian, Chris Spencer, American Express led by Former Laker Assistant coach, still known as “Superman”, Kurt Rambis, Swatch led by Carl Lewis, American Airlines led by Tracy Murray, Gateway led by Lisa Guerrera, Burger King led by Jamie Kennedy, and Baja Fresh led by actor, Rob Estes.
Many guests thoroughly enjoyed the Neptune IX, a full-body flotation system, which combines heat and nine fully adjustable massage jets. The hydrotherapy massage system, provided by Totally Wiped Out, conforms to your every muscle providing you with the ultimate in massage therapy!
Fun made a creative statement by giving out several thousand unique plush cell phone and remote control covers. From “Floppy”, a long-eared puppy to “Tadpole”, a lime green frog. Heads were turning when these new adorable pet phones started ringing. Voted as one of the top new products of the year, Fun brought enjoyment to many visitors.
Finally, we met the Shaqtacular Executive Producers & AEFK Team: Michael Parris, Executive Producer & President of Mine O Mine, Elise Kim, Founder and CEO, National Chairman, Tim Brown, National Chairwoman, Kathy Ireland, Chairwoman, Patricia Williams, & Founding Chairperson Emeritus, Howie Long, celebrate their seventh year of producing SHAQTACULAR, the epic celebrity fundraising extravaganza, which has gained international attention. Since the inception, Mike and Elise brainstorm to continue to re-create the show each year.
This year, Elise and Mike teamed up with Fox Sports Net and National Mobile Television to produce several features shows from Shaqtacular VII for In-Demand pay-per-view and High Definition TV. 2002 unveils their newest addition to Shaqtacular…The Shaq Jam Concert featuring: DMX, Snoop Dog, Fabolous & DJ Clue, Redman, Methodman and an eclectic mix of other artists and comedians.
Be looking out for 2003! For more information, log on to