13th Annual Dick Vitale Gala Sets Fundraising Record, Raising More than $3.5 Million for Pediatric Cancer Research
The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a top-rated cancer research charity, and ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Dick Vitale are pleased to announce the 13th Annual Dick Vitale Gala raised a record-breaking $3.7 million for pediatric cancer research. Held in Sarasota, Fla., the Gala hosted hundreds of supporters and celebrities to further groundbreaking advancements in childhood cancer research while celebrating this year’s Gala honorees. With the addition of this year’s funds, the Dick Vitale Gala has raised $25 million to help defeat the leading cause of death by disease in American children.
“What a night! All the stars came out and it was a SLAM DUNK, BABY!” said Vitale. “We’re very excited about the funds we have been able to raise for pediatric cancer research, and are hopeful that we are getting closer to finding a cure for this dreadful disease! Thank you to everyone for helping us reach our goal!”
This year’s sold-out event honored ESPN television and radio personality Mike Greenberg, Florida State University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Leonard Hamilton and University of Michigan Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh. On top of being one of the night’s honorees and speaking to those in attendance, Greenberg is donating 100% of all author proceeds from his newest children’s book,MVP: Most Valuable Puppy, to pediatric cancer research through the V Foundation. Hamilton and Harbaugh also addressed the Gala crowd.
Vitale continues to recruit celebrities in the fight against cancer, drawing dozens of stars to Sarasota for the event. Notable NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball coaches in attendance included all four 2018 NCAA Final Four Coaches: Jay Wright (Villanova University), John Beilein (University of Michigan), Bill Self (University of Kansas) and Porter Moser (Loyola University Chicago). Other notable personalities in attendance included newest V Foundation Board Member, former NBA star and co-founder of the Admiral Capital Group, David Robinson; former NBA star Grant Hill, ESPN talents Shelley Smith and Kevin Negandhi; Georgia Tech University Men’s Basketball Coach Josh Pastner and Notre Dame University Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Brey; University of Georgia Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Crean; former NBA coach and current TV analyst Mike Fratello and former NBA star and University of Central Florida Men’s Basketball Coach Johnny Dawkins. The Soul Sensations provided the evening’s entertainment.
“Inspirational – that’s the best word to describe the Vitale Gala,” said Susan Braun, Chief Executive Officer of the V Foundation. “Athletes, coaches, media personalities, business leaders and a host of supporters of the V coming together with one purpose: to raise money that funds outstanding research that will help us cure pediatric cancers. We are grateful and humbled by this generous outpouring of support.”
During the Gala, Vitale and the V Foundation announced this year’s event will fund two special grants in memory of Chad Carr and Tony Colton. Carr, of Saline, Mich., was 5 years old when he passed away in November 2015 from an aggressive brain cancer called DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma). The kindergartener had been diagnosed only 15 months before. After several years of treatment, Colton, 17, of Sarasota, passed away in July 2017. He was heavily involved with his community and focused on improving the lives of other children diagnosed with cancer. In 2014, he lobbied on Capitol Hill for more pediatric cancer research funding.
Vitale also recognized two special guests with the John Saunders V Foundation Award for Courage. ESPN talents Chris Berman and Shelley Smith were honored with the award for their dedication to raising awareness and funds for cancer research.