Celebrities, Supporters Convene at 10th Annual Dick Vitale Gala
The V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading cancer research funding organizations, and ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Dick Vitale welcomed celebrities and a sold-out crowd to The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota on Friday, May 15 for the 10th Annual Dick Vitale Gala. To date, the Dick Vitale Gala has raised more than $10 million for pediatric cancer research. This year’s event is expected to raise more than $2 million, with the final fundraising total to be announced at a later date.
“The night was filled with stars galore including National Championship winning coaches and star players,” said Vitale. “Most of all, the real stars are my ‘All Courageous Team’ that have survived their battles against cancer. They prove that research does work. The Gala was sold out thanks to all those that generously supported us, helping us to raise over $2 million for kids battling cancer. Thank you, thank you! I’ll simply say, save the date for next year’s event on May 13 when we will honor Robin Roberts, Bo Ryan and Urban Meyer.”
The 10th annual event hosted more than 800 guests and featured 90 celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment. Syracuse University men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith and Florida State University football coach Jimbo Fisher were honored throughout the evening for their coaching successes and commitment to the fight against cancer. Prominent NCAA basketball coaches in attendance included John Calipari (Kentucky), Ben Howland (Mississippi State), Bobby Huggins (West Virginia), Bobby Hurley (Arizona State), Jim Larrañaga (Miami) and Fran McCaffery (Iowa). Syracuse basketball’s coaching staff, members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ front office and many former Florida State football players were also on-site to support the honorees. Numerous current and former NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL players, coaches and team representatives were present, including Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive tackle Devon Still, who recently announced that his 4-year-old daughter, Leah, is in remission following treatment for neuroblastoma. ESPN’s John Saunders introduced a touching video tribute to Stuart Scott and was afterward joined on stage by Scott’s daughter, Taelor, to announce the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund to help continue Stuart’s fight against cancer and assist some of the most vulnerable and disproportionately impacted communities battling cancer. The Gala included a “Celebrity Meet & Greet Private Party,” as well as after-party entertainment featuring Blood, Sweat & Tears, a contemporary jazz-rock music group.
“Once again, Dick and his amazing team have rallied us all to end cancer in children,” said Susan Braun, CEO of The V Foundation. “An outstanding goal, an outstanding advocate. The Foundation is honored to serve this cause with Dick Vitale.”
This year’s Gala will fund a $250,000 grant in memory of Lauren Hill and a two-year pediatric V Scholar grant in memory of Dillon Simmons. Hill and Simmons inspired local and national audiences with their courage and strength during their respective battles against cancer. Hill’s Mount St. Joseph University’s basketball coach Dan Benjamin as well as Simmons’ parents and brother also attended the Gala. The grants will be awarded to leading pediatric cancer researchers across the country under the guidance of The V Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee.
Visit www.jimmyv.org/vitale to learn more about the Dick Vitale Gala.
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