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Youngstown State’s Dallas Blocker Named 2010 Comeback Award Recipient

V Foundation Award announced on ESPN

Youngstown State University basketball senior forward Dallas Blocker has been named the recipient of the tenth annual V Foundation Comeback Award, 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 Blocker at Youngstown State’s Scholar-Athlete Banquet on Tuesday, April 27.

Dallas’ journey began in February, 2009 when, on a road trip, he felt discomfort in his abdomen and soon after was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He returned to his hometown, Topeka, Kansas, and missed the final seven games of the 2008-09 season.  Following two surgeries to remove both testicles, he endured four rounds of intense chemotherapy – six hours a day, five days a week. This time tested his perseverance the most.  As Dallas lost his hair and grew weak, he started to lose his motivation.  His determination and inner strength prevented him from giving up.  He continued his workout regime during chemotherapy, first walking, and then shooting baskets and light weight training.

On September 11, 2009, only seven months after his original diagnosis, he was given a clean bill of health.  Youngstown State opened the season at Xavier, November 13, 2009 and Dallas was in the starting lineup for the first time in his career, an emotional return to the court, reflecting on what he had been through to reach this moment. He played in of 25 (of 30) games this season, starting 23, and set career single-game highs in rebounding (11), assists (7), steals (5) and blocks (4).  Following graduation, he would like to become a teacher and coach, to share his story with young people who have also been diagnosed with cancer.

“It is a great honor to be named the recipient of the 10th Annual V Foundation Comeback Award,” said Blocker. “There are no winners or losers in this. All of the finalists overcame a great deal of adversity and are deserving of this recognition as well.  I’m fortunate to have had a tremendous amount of support over the past year. I need to thank my family, Coach (Jerry) Slocum and the entire Youngstown State coaching staff, and our athletic trainer Todd Burkey, who was with me every day during my chemotherapy treatments.  I also want to thank The V Foundation, not only for this award, but for all of the work it does for cancer research and saving so many lives of those affected by cancer,” he concluded.

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 has been created.

“It is with great pleasure that we honor Dallas Blocker with the 2010 V Foundation Comeback Award, “ said V Foundation CEO Nick Valvano.  “Dallas’ comeback from cancer is a display of courage and determination.  He embodies the never give up spirit of The V Foundation, we’re honored to have my brother’s name remembered with Dallas, and we welcome him to the list of incredible young men and women who have received this award before him.”

“Cancer is a disease that has affected all of our lives,” said Youngstown State Head Coach Jerry Slocum.  “The V Foundation is an organization that wages the battle to fight this disease. The recognition that The Foundation has shown Dallas is one that reflects his strength and desire to beat cancer.  This award is received hand-in-hand with the many that are fighting and beating cancer. We are proud of Dallas and the great perseverance he has shown this past year. He is an inspiration to all of us,” Slocum added. 

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) and Farmingdale State’s Tiffara Steward (2009).

Blocker was selected from a group of 11 finalists who were nominated by their athletic departments.  The recipient was chosen by a committee of members of The V Foundation Board of Directors.  The other 2010 finalists were:  Thomas Kleinschnitz, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Kelsey Griffin, University of Nebraska; Kelvin Davis, San Diego State University; Brianna Culberson, University of Denver; Tahnee Robinson, University of Nevada; Sanchez Hughley, Florida Atlantic University; D’Andre Bell, Georgia Tech University; Kristen Lucci, Waynesburg University; Devon Davis, California State University San Bernardino; Dana Pernell Smith II, Longwood University.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research 
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 $90 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide. The Foundation awards 100 percent of all new direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs and has received seven consecutive top 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator.  For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.jimmyv.org.

ESPN, Inc.
ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of six domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic & ESPN Deportes), ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU & ESPNEWS HD simulcast services, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (46 networks, syndication, radio, web sites), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN PPV, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN360.com (Broadband, to be re-named ESPN3.com April 4), ESPN Mobile Properties, ESPN on Demand and ESPN Interactive.  Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.  The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

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