MIAMI -- Fame for 33 Chilean miners may have come from surviving 69 days trapped in the darkness of a mine shaft, but these days it's all about basking in the limelight.
Thursday was no different.
With Oakley shades in hand, 13 of the 33 miners arrived at the Coconut Creek Seminole Casino to try their hand at some blackjack while raising awareness about a charity fundraiser benefiting American miners.
"People are always asking us how our lives have changed," said miner Mario Sepulveda, who became known as "Super Mario" for his comedic broadcasts from the depths of the mine. "We're still the same people, but this experience has made it possible for us to feel the warmth of strangers from all over. It deeply touches you, and makes you realize that humanity is all connected."
The miners became famous worldwide last November when they each emerged after being trapped for 69 days at a gold and copper mine 2,000 feet below the earth. The dramatic rescue unfolded on television and was broadcast around the globe, turning them into celebrities.
Defying expectations, all 33 men made it out unharmed -- with each taking on different roles like writing poems and leading each other in prayer to ease one another's fears.
The miners will be honored at a "Tribute to Heroes and Miracles" -- a fundraising event being held at the casino on Saturday to benefit the United Mine Workers of America, the American Cancer Society and Disabled American Veterans. They will be honored alongside other heroes including two Bay County School Board officials who helped deter a crazed gunman during a December shooting at a School Board meeting.
"Never in my life did I imagine being able to come to the United States," miner Dario Segovia said. "Everything here is so beautiful. The palm trees. The warm weather. Even how well maintained the streets are... . But what I enjoy most is the caring nature of everyone we have encountered here."
Ever since their televised rescue captivated viewers, the men have fielded invitations from every corner of the earth to speak or be honored at events.
Before heading to South Florida, several of the miners and their families stopped at Walt Disney World, where they were treated to an all-expense paid trip and heralded at a parade at the Magic Kingdom.
Edison Pena -- who serenaded the miners with tunes from Elvis Presley -- recently toured the crooner's Graceland estate and made an appearance at Cirque du Soleil's Viva Las Vegas show in Las Vegas. The avid runner also ran in November's New York City Marathon.
Several miners also visited Los Angeles in November, and Jose Henriquez, considered the preacher-miner because he often led the men in prayer, spoke at Thursday's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington with President Barack Obama in attendance.
"We don't always understand what people are telling us, but we can tell by the warmth in their expression and their smiles that they are receiving us well," Sepulveda said in Spanish, tearing up.
As the men tried their luck at blackjack, several people crowded around them in learning their celebrity. Despite pleas from security for people to keep their distance, several miners posed for pictures and shook hands with well-wishers.
"I really didn't think they would be saved and now look, they're here," gushed Alexandra Pierce, 24, of West Palm Beach. "This is awesome. It's like seeing a miracle up close in person."
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