Getting Ready for V Week

As the calendar turns into November, it brings with it certain annual events that let us know the holiday season is approaching. A family gathering for Thanksgiving, the temperatures dropping and the leaves changing colors. For us at the V Foundation, the most important is ESPN’s annual V Week. Each year, from Giving Tuesday through V Week, ESPN puts on a full-court press to support life-saving cancer research.

V Week at ESPN

This year will mark the 15th annual V Week at ESPN, but how did the idea come about? The first impulse for what came to be known as V Week started as a lightbulb moment for ESPN employee and cancer survivor Ilan Ben-Hanan. Ben-Hanan, currently the Senior Vice President of Programming & Acquisitions at ESPN, was at the time in charge of college basketball scheduling for the network. While attending Dick Vitale’s Gala with other ESPN colleagues back in 2007, he listened to a speech from Mike Krzyzewski, and was moved to stand when Coach K asked all cancer survivors to stand. This was notable for Ben-Hanan, because he had not discussed his cancer background with his colleagues. Feeling inspired to do more, he sent an email to then ESPN President George Bodenheimer about an idea he wanted to pursue. Bodenheimer gave the green light, Ben-Hanan ran with the idea and V Week as we know it was born.

Listen Ilan on the Voices for Victory Podcast

Read more of Ilan’s story


It’s certainly fitting that Vitale and Krzyzewski, who famously flew with Jim Valvano on the way to the ESPYS before his speech creating the V Foundation, are also indirectly involved in the creation of V Week. Vitale has been a staple of the V Week initiative since its beginning and is responsible for my favorite V Week moment, an impassioned plea to help kids battling cancer at halftime of the 2019 Jimmy V Classic.

This year, we are rallying together to support Dick as he battles lymphoma and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment. We hope you’ll join us in supporting Dick because we are V Strong, baby!

Join Us!

We are also looking forward to a number of other exciting initiatives during V Week this year, including:

  • The annual airing of Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech across most ESPN networks (known as the “roadblock”) is set for December 1 at 7 p.m.
  • An extended focus on the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund, as we continue to pursue ending cancer disparities. This includes a new V Foundation event, BOO-YAH: A Celebration of Stuart Scott that will take place in New York during V Week and raise money for the fund. The UFC will also host a “Fight Like Hell” night on December 4 to support the fund.
  • The 2021 Men’s and Women’s Jimmy V Classic games, which features a men’s doubleheader on December 7 with Tennessee taking on Texas Tech and Syracuse against Villanova. The women’s classic is set for December 12 and features Kentucky at Louisville and Maryland traveling to South Carolina. All games can be seen on ESPN.

To paraphrase Jim Valvano, it’s going to be a heck of a week. We hope you’ll join our team this V Week to help us move closer to Victory Over Cancer®.