The 19th Annual Dick Vitale Gala Announces $24.8 Million Raised This Year For Pediatric Cancer Research

Includes a $12 Million Donation from Mark and Cindy Pentecost, Founders of IT WORKS!

Sarasota, FL (May 7, 2024) – The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a top-rated cancer research charity, and ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Dick Vitale, announced at the 19th Annual Dick Vitale Gala that $24.8 million has been raised for pediatric cancer research in the past year. The amount announced encompasses millions of dollars raised during the Gala, including a $12 million gift from Mark and Cindy Pentecost, founders of IT WORKS!. The sold-out event was held at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, FL on Friday, May 3. Since the inception of the Gala, nearly $93 million has been raised for the V Foundation’s Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund.

“For 19 years, we have proudly celebrated the incredible children on Dickie V’s All-Courageous Team and all pediatric cancer survivors, while passionately fundraising to move childhood cancer treatments forward,” Vitale said. “These children inspire me each and every day, and they need our support. I am always deeply grateful for the tremendous generosity from our donors coming together throughout the year and at the gala. They step up more and more each and every year and are true PTPers.  Plus, thank you to Mary Kenealy, Janet Allen and the entire team for their tremendous year-round work on this event. It’s AWESOME, BABY!”

This year’s Gala Honorees were:

  • Baseball Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter
  • NASCAR Hall of Famer, Jeff Gordon
  • Tennessee Men’s Head Basketball Coach, Rick Barnes
  • Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly (2024 Dick Vitale Spirit Award)
  • Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, Nikki McCray-Penson (2024 John Saunders Courage Award, posthumously)

“Cindy and I are proud supporters of The V Foundation, Dick Vitale and their mission to fund game-changing research to accelerate Victory Over Cancer®,” Mark said. “Dick’s All-Courageous Kids were there for me personally during my cancer journey. They truly are world changers!”

The Gala continued its tradition of bringing sports stars across the country together to support pediatric cancer research. Among those in attendance were former Syracuse men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim, University of Central Florida men’s basketball head coach Johnny Dawkins, ESPN college basketball broadcaster Seth Greenberg, former WNBA player and coach and current Oklahoma City Thunder broadcaster Nancy Lieberman, former MLB first baseman and four-time World Series champion Tino Martinez, Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, former MLB player and five-time All-Star Frank Thomas and Kansas State men’s basketball head coach Jerome Tang.

“Dick is a tireless advocate for pediatric cancer research, helping childhood cancer patients now and in the future,” said Shane Jacobson, CEO of the V Foundation. “Each year we gather here in Sarasota and raise awareness and funds for game-changing childhood cancer research. This would not be possible without Dick and his wife Lorraine, the honoree guests, Dick’s All-Courageous Team of childhood cancer thrivers and our world-class supporters. This is a team of All-Stars seeking our ultimate championship: Victory Over Cancer®.”

Minimal federal funding is dedicated to pediatric cancer research, making private funding through organizations like the V Foundation critical. The Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund has awarded over $84 million for pediatric cancer research, and research is working. 85% of children with cancer now survive 5 years or more. In the mid-1970s, the five-year survival rate was 58% (source: American Cancer Society).


About 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 University basketball coach, and ESPN commentator. The V Foundation has funded over $353 million in game-changing cancer research grants nationwide through a competitive process strictly supervised by a world-class Scientific Advisory Committee. Because the V Foundation has an endowment to cover administrative expenses, 100% of direct donations are awarded to cancer research and programs. The V team is committed to accelerating Victory Over Cancer®. To learn more, visit


Media Contact:
Alex Paterson
V Foundation for Cancer Research

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