Dick Vitale and The V Foundation Establish Pediatric Cancer Research Grant in Memory of John Saunders

The V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading cancer research funding organizations, and ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Dick Vitale are honored to announce a pediatric cancer research grant in memory of John Saunders, one of ESPN’s most visible and versatile commentators.  Together, Vitale and Saunders were founding members of The V Foundation’s Board of Directors and remained devoted supporters since the Foundation’s inception in 1993.  Next year, at the Dick Vitale Gala, Vitale will honor his friend by raising funds for the John Saunders Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research.


“John Saunders has been a vital force at the Dick Vitale Gala for the past 11 years,” said Vitale.  “For 10 of those years, he served as the emcee and has been very important in our efforts that have raised more than $18.1 million for pediatric cancer research.  John would spend time each year with our All Courageous Team of cancer survivors at the gala.  We have established the John Saunders Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research in his honor.  It is our goal, as a tribute to John, to raise money to assist youngsters in their battle against cancer.  We need your help. Please donate now.”


As colleagues at ESPN, Vitale and Saunders became close with Jim Valvano and have helped sustain the legendary NC State University basketball coach’s legacy by supporting The V Foundation and its mission to end cancer.  In addition to the annual Dick Vitale Gala, Vitale and Saunders spearheaded and participated in many of The V Foundation’s events and initiatives to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.  The V Foundation has awarded nearly $20 million in pediatric cancer research grants to institutions nationwide since 1993, including almost $5 million in childhood cancer research grants awarded last year. They are making a significant impact in finding cures for the leading cause of death by disease among American children.


“We are so saddened at the passing our friend, colleague and fellow cancer research advocate. John will be missed every day by friends, family and fans around the world, but he will never be forgotten,” said Susan Braun, CEO of The V Foundation.  “We are establishing this grant in his honor to help children with cancer. Our Scientific Advisory Committee will select a V Scholar grantee from a review of the best pediatric cancer researchers in the country. John will continue to make a positive impact in the lives of young cancer patients.”


The John Saunders Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research will be announced at the 12th Annual Dick Vitale Gala on May 12, 2017, in Sarasota, Fla.  Following a record-breaking fundraising event this year, the 2017 Gala will honor the University of Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Kelly, West Virginia University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins and longtime ESPN anchor Chris Berman.  The V Foundation proudly awards 100% of net proceeds of events and direct donations to cancer research.


To contribute to the John Saunders Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research, please visit