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Sixth Annual Dick Vitale Gala Honors Coaches Roy Williams and John Calipari

Event Proceeds Benefit Pediatric Cancer Research Grants in Memory of Three Children Who Lost Their Battle with Cancer

Coaching greats and sports celebrities filled the room on Friday as Dick Vitale hosted his sixth annual fundraising Gala to benefit The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  The stars gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota in raising more than $1 million in the fight against pediatric cancer. ESPN’s Rece Davis emceed the event that honored three sports icons: basketball coaches Roy Williams from the University of North Carolina, John Calipari from the University of Kentucky and tennis legend Nick Bolletierri. 

The sold out event gathered more than 800 people and featured over 90 celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment.  Attendees included all four of the coaches represented in the 2011 NCAA Final Four: Calipari, Butler’s Brad Stevens, Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun and Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart.  Sports broadcasters Erin Andrews and Lesley Visser were also on hand.  Additionally, pediatric cancer survivors Darren Shanks of San Diego, and Tatum Parker of Indianapolis, attended the event and received special recognition for their work in their communities. 

“Dick’s support of The V Foundation’s mission and his commitment to the Florida community is incredible and inspiring,” said Nick Valvano, CEO of The V Foundation.  “We’d also like to thank John, Roy and Nick, as well as all the other celebrities and guests, who have helped to make this event successful for the last six years.” 

One of the evening’s highlights was when Vitale was honored with an inaugural pediatric fellowship in his name. The Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fellowship at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, is the first to be established since these two revered healthcare providers joined forces in April of 2011.  The fellow will spend three years actively training for a future in pediatric cancer research. 

Since the event’s inception in 2006 through this year’s event, the Vitale Gala has raised more than $4.65 million for cancer research in the Florida community.  Vitale has worked with both All Children’s Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, to fund research for numerous pediatric cancer research projects. This year, event proceeds will fund two pediatric cancer research grants to be named in memory of Lucy Webber, Johnny Teis and Adrian Littlejohn, who each lost their lives to cancer.  The grants will be awarded to Moffitt Cancer Center and All Children’s Hospital. 

For more information about the Gala, please visit www.jimmyv.org.

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 www.jimmyv.org.