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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sports-entertainment collided with the world of the arts during the official kickoff of WrestleMania XXIV Wednesday night at WrestleManiArt. WWE Superstars' creations, as well as works of art inspired by WWE, were auctioned off at Orlando's CityArts Factory to raise money for the Central Florida Sports Commission and United Arts of Central Florida.
"We wanted to make this a week of festivities in Orlando, and what a great way to kick it off, by combining arts and sports-entertainment together, and to see the other side, the other talents of the WWE Superstars," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
John P. Saboor, President and CEO of the Central Florida Sports Commission, said WrestleManiArt offers Orlando a special, new collaboration between sports-entertainment and the arts.
"Tonight really is an unprecedented event and a very, very special partnership between this Sports Commission, the city of Orlando, United Arts and our new friends and partners from WWE," Saboor said.
Works of art on display by WWE Superstars included a three-dimensional mask by Shannon Moore, a replica WWE ring fashioned of motorcycle parts by Chuck Palumbo, a shadowbox collage tribute to Eddie Guerrero by Vickie Guerrero, a tornado sighting-inspired painting by Rory Highlander, a caricature of WWE Superstars by Edge, and many paintings, comics and drawings by Jerry "The King" Lawler.
"I want to thank our wonderful WWE Superstars," said WWE CEO Linda McMahon. "Tonight, as you look around, you will really see some hidden talents and it will just let you know that our Superstars are multi-faceted, and they are multi-performers. So we're so appreciative."
Also on display were Jimmy Hart's signature megaphone and colorful jacket, Victoria's Widows Peak-inspired ring gear, WWE pay-per-view posters and photographs of WWE Superstars taken by David Lindsey Wade. Local Orlando artist Donna Dowless auctioned off a WrestleMania-inspired painting called "Kiss Off," which was purchased by McMahon. There was also a performance by local contemporary dance troupe DRIP, who danced inside a mini-WWE ring to one of the WrestleMania XXIV theme songs, "Snow (Hey Oh)" by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Margot H. Knight, President and CEO of United Arts of Central Florida, said everyone has the ability to express themselves creatively, especially WWE Superstars.
"Tonight is absolutely proof positive that in every single living breathing human being is the soul of an artist," Knight said. "We are so excited to see this wonderful collaboration between art and sports happen here tonight through WrestleManiArt."
SmackDown General Manager Guerrero -- an avid scrapbooker -- said she never thought art enthusiasts would bid on her collage tribute to Eddie Guerrero, but she was excited her heartfelt handiwork raised money for charity.
"It's important for me to take part in this WWE function for WrestleMania because it's a way for us to give back to Orlando for supporting WrestleMania," Guerrero said. "We get to touch the hearts of our fans and are able to talk to them and say thank you because without the fans, we're not able to do these kinds of functions."
While most of the Superstars' artwork was sold for several hundred dollars each in a silent auction, Rory McAllister's "Tornado" painting garnered $675 for charity. Lawler created a one-of-a-kind painting inspired by the city of Orlando while attending WrestleManiArt. The piece, featuring Big Show and Mickey Mouse, brought in more than $1,000.
"We helped raise a lot of money for a couple of good causes. They told me there were some crazy people in Orlando, and now I believe it. Somebody paid $1,100 for a cartoon I drew in about 50 minutes!" Lawler smiled.
The Raw announcer said WrestleManiArt is a new venture for WWE, which brought a different level of excitement to WrestleMania week in Orlando.
"Not only does it show another side of the WWE talent, it shows that we can give back to the community. The community and the fans, they make WWE and the Superstars," Lawler said. "This is our opportunity to give something back to those people and show we do appreciate what they do for us."