500 Festival Parade announces special guests, plans to honor 25th anniversary of ‘Rudy’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The man who inspired the movie Rudy and the director and producer who brought the story to the silver screen are among the special guests for this year’s 500 Festival Parade.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, David Anspaugh and Angela Pizzo are among the headliners for this year’s event. Ruettiger was desperate to play for the University of Notre Dame and turned his life story into a movie and a career as a motivational speaker. The film celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Anspaugh is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning director from Decatur, Indiana, who brought the story to the big screen. He also directed Hoosiers. Pizzo, a movie mogul who grew up in Bloomington, produced both Hoosiers and Rudy.

Abbie Abel and Mitch Bonar will serve as grand marshals of the 62nd IPL 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis. Abel, a Carmel High School graduate, and Bonar, a Noblesville High School graduate, are best friends who are advocates of unified sports through Champions Together.

Abel was a star on Carmel’s women’s basketball team while Bonar, who was born with cerebral palsy, loved sports but had trouble fitting in on the field. Their lives changed forever when they joined the Unified Track and Field team, which puts people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to compete.

They’re working together to promote the idea of unified sports around the country. Abel plays on Purdue’s women’s team while Bonar is thriving at Ivy Tech.

Other celebrities for the event include Hoosier actor Doug Jones, who has appeared in Oscar-winning movies including The Shape of Water and Pan’s Labyrinth; Jim Cornelison, the voice of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Chicago Blackhawks’ games who will sing “Back Home Again in Indiana”; and violinist, producer and humanitarian Miri Ben-Ari.

Here’s more about the special guests for this year’s event from 500 Festival organizers:

2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the motion picture, Rudy, named one of AFI’s most inspiring movies. To commemorate the milestone, the director and screenwriter of the famous movie and the inspiration behind the film will all join the IPL 500 Festival Parade lineup.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger: Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger never gave up on his dream to play football at the University of Notre Dame. The biographical film, Rudy, depicts his merciless journey to football stardom, which defined his “yes I can” mentality. A motivational speaker, Rudy shares his passionate and heartfelt story with others.

David Anspaugh: Emmy and Golden Globe-winning director, David Anspaugh was the backbone behind the creation of the inspiration film, Rudy, as well as another beloved sports drama, Hoosiers. A native of Decatur, Indiana, and graduate of Indiana University, Anspaugh’s career also included directing the television shows, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere and Miami Vice.

Angelo Pizzo: A movie mogul who grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, Angelo Pizzo is famed for writing and producing Rudy as well as Hoosiers. Pizzo now resides in Indiana with his family.

Abby Abel, a 2015 Carmel High School graduate, and Mitch Bonar, a 2015 Noblesville High School graduate, are best friends who met in high school. From the outside, both led very different lives in high school. Abel was a star player on Carmel High School’s women’s basketball team. Mitch Bonar, who was born with cerebral palsy, loved sports but had difficulty fitting in on the field. Both of their lives were changed when they joined their school’s Unified Track and Field team, which joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to compete. Unified sports are offered to Indiana schools through Champions Together, a partnership between Special Olympics Indiana and the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA). Champions Together promotes servant leadership among student athletes while changing their lives as well as the lives of those with intellectual disabilities.

12 Strong | Task Force Dagger 595: Cast members from the movie 12 Strong, will be joined by real-life members of Task Force Dagger 595, the first Special Forces Team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11 and basis of the movie. The list of the brave Green Beret Special Forces members joining this year’s Parade includes: Mark Nutsch, Will Summers, Scott Neil, and Chris Spence. Cast members appearing in the IPL 500 Festival Parade include:

  • Geoff Stults: Actor Geoff Stults played the character Sean Coffers in the movie, 12 Strong. He also acted in the long running TV show, 7th Heaven, as well as The Odd Couple and Grace and Frankie.
  • Kenny Sheard: After 12+ years in the U.S. Navy, Kenny Sheard transitioned to the reserves and focused on developing skills that would become an essential foundation for his career as an actor and stuntman. Sheared played the character Bill Bennett in 12 Strong. He’s worked in numerous other high-profile films and television series including Transformers: Age of Extinction, 13 Hours and John Wick: Chapter 2.

Doug Jones: Actor Doug Jones captured the attention of critics with his portrayal of Amphibian Man, the creature at the center of the film, The Shape of Water, an Oscar-winner for Best Motion Picture. Jones’ 30+ year career includes more than 150 productions in film and TV, including playing the role of The Fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth, the title character in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Abe Sapien in Hellboy, Billy Butcherson in Hocus Pocus, as well as his current starring role as Saru in the CBS All Access series, Star Trek: Discovery. Jones is a graduate of Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis and a Ball State University alum.

Jim Cornelison: Best known as the powerful and exclusive voice behind “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Chicago Blackhawks’ home games, Jim Cornelison thrilled hundreds of thousands of fans with his performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500. He’ll appear in the IPL 500 Festival Parade before performing the iconic song once again at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Zachary Spicer: Zachary Spicer is an actor, producer, and the CEO of Pigasus Pictures. He recently starred in the movie The Good Catholic. He’s also known for his role in the Netflix Original Series Master of None, and has appeared in television series including, Gotham, Blue Bloods, and Law & Order SVU. Spicer is an Indiana native and an Indiana University alum.

John Armstrong: John Armstrong is an actor, producer, and COO of Pigasus Pictures, an Indiana-based film production company. A native of Indiana and Indiana University alum, Armstrong produced the movie The Good Catholic, starring Danny Glover and John McGinley as well as the upcoming feature titled, Ms. White Light, starring Tony Award-winning actress Judith Light.

Kristin and Danny Adams: Kristin and Danny Adams are YouTube sensations whose online videos have amassed more than 300 million views. They became famous after a funny lip-sync video went viral in 2016. Kristin, a former television host, and Danny, a former actor, comedian and stunt man, met in Los Angeles before returning to Danny’s hometown of Indianapolis in 2008.

Miri Ben-Ari: Miri Ben-Ari is a Grammy Award-Winning violinist, producer, and humanitarian, a “UN Goodwill Ambassador of Music” to the United Nations. Originally from Israel, she has created her own unique music; a revolutionary fusion of classical, Hip-Hop, soul and dance. A classically trained violinist who once studied under the late classical master Isaac Stern, Ben-Ari has helped sell millions of records by collaborating with other Grammy award-winning artists such as Kanye West, Jay Z, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Akon, Patti Labelle, Brandy, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, John Legend, Aventura, and Armin Van Buuren.

iLuminate: iLuminate is an entertainment technology dance group that combines state-of-the-art technology with electrifying entertainers who perform in the dark to create the ultimate performing arts experience. The group’s lighting effects and choreographed performances take viewers on an exhilarating ride. Once called “the best new act in America” during their run on America’s Got Talent, they’ve also performed alongside Grammy-winning superstars like Christina Aguilera, The Black Eyed Peas, David Guetta, and more. The group has been featured on Dancing with the Stars, X Factor, American Music Awards, MTV, BET, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and more.

The parade is scheduled for Saturday, May 26. You can get tickets here.

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