James Madison’s Dawn Evans Named 2011 Comeback Award Recipient

The V Foundation Award Announced on ESPN

The V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading cancer research fundraising organizations, announced today that James Madison University basketball senior guard Dawn Evans has been named the recipient of the eleventh annual V Foundation Comeback Award. This award is given annually by The V Foundation for Cancer Research in collaboration with ESPN. The award will be announced tonight during ESPN’s basketball coverage and presented to Evans on the James Madison campus at a later date.

Evans, one of the leading scorers in the NCAA the last three seasons and who has virtually re-written the JMU record books with more than 40 school records, was diagnosed in December 2009 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a disease that attacks the kidneys’ filtering system. Since her diagnosis, she has missed only three of 60 games due to FSGS symptoms. Her grace, grit and determination in continuing to play Division I basketball while dealing with the effects of FSGS have earned her the respect of her teammates, coaches and team medical personnel, who see her facing challenges on a daily basis.

To help raise public awareness for FSGS, Evans accepted an invitation by The NephCure Foundation to serve as an ambassador for that organization, which raises funds to support research seeking a cause and cure for FSGS and Nephrotic syndrome. In this role, Evans meets with families who have someone suffering from FSGS and responds to telephone calls, emails and other communications from people suffering from kidney disease.

Evans’ honors in 2010 included watch lists for three national player of the year awards (Naismith Trophy, Wade Trophy and Wooden Award), AP All-America honorable mention, WBCA State Farm All-America Team finalist, WBCA State Farm All-Region 2, CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player and runner-up for CAA Player of the Year. She also received the CAA’s Randolph Inspiration Award and was a finalist for the Honda Inspiration Award.  This season’s honors include Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalist, Lieberman Award finalist, Naismith, Wade and Wood watch lists and preseason CAA Co-Player of the Year.

“Dawn Evans exemplifies the ‘don’t give up’ spirit that is the cornerstone of The V Foundation,” said The V Foundation CEO, Nick Valvano.   “We are proud to welcome Dawn as the recipient of the 2011 V Foundation Comeback Award.  She will join an inspirational group of young people who have received this award before her.”

The V Foundation Comeback Award is open to men and women collegiate basketball student-athletes in all NCAA divisions. It is awarded to an individual or a team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life or moral dilemma. The award is presented in memory of Jim Valvano, the late basketball coach and ESPN commentator, whose personal battle with cancer inspired the creation of The V Foundation. In his memorable speech at ESPN’s inaugural ESPY Awards announcing the creation of The V Foundation, Valvano’s “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”® motto created a legacy from which the Comeback Award is based.

“This past year has been the most difficult time of my life, and with my support system I’ve been able to overcome most of it,” said Evans.  “This award is dedicated to those who have been able to continue after facing adversity, and I graciously thank the people who have been in my corner to help me to deal with it all.”

“I am extremely proud of Dawn for this accomplishment,” said head coach Kenny Brooks. “The V Foundation Comeback Award is a prestigious honor and I believe that Dawn exemplifies what it stands for. Faced with adversity, Dawn showed courage as she took on responsibility to inspire others through her trials and tribulations. In her time of despair, when she needed her team the most, it was Dawn who inspired her teammates and coaches with her courage, determination and grace.  In my opinion, there is no one more deserving of this honor than Dawn Raven Evans.”

Past recipients of the award are Purdue’s Katie Douglas (2001), Western Michigan’s Kristin Koetsier (2002), Arizona State’s Justin Allen (2003), Texas’ Jamie Carey (2004), Washington’s Kayla Burt (2005), Western Washington’s Grant Dykstra (2006), the United States Military Academy Women’s Basketball Team (2007), Drexel’s Nicole Hester (2008), Farmingdale State’s Tiffara Steward (2009) and Youngstown State’s Dallas Blocker (2010).

Evans was selected from a group of 11 finalists who were nominated by their athletic departments.  

For more information about The V Foundation Comeback Award, visit

About The V Foundation
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has raised more than $100 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of all direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs. Administrative and fundraising expenses are paid by the Foundation’s endowment. The Foundation awards grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit

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