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Friday, May 1, 2009
Dickie V gala coming up

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

I can't wait for the Dickie V gala. It is coming up on May 15 in Sarasota, Fla. My friends, we are going to raise $1 million for the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research. It has become part of my life and I vividly remember the days at the Radisson in Bristol, sitting in Jimmy's room, the pain evident throughout his body.

It was so excruciating, and I would sit there and wonder how anyone could go through that?

I was not that close to Jimmy before he arrived at ESPN. When he got there, we spent countless hours together, and we became very close.

It really affected me big time, so I have tried to raise the dollars needed to battle this dreaded disease. I am so proud of the efforts of the people at the V Foundation. They have worked so hard to make the lives of cancer patients better, to help provide grants so doctors can help find a cure.

I remember when I first got involved with the Dickie V. gala, and I stated a goal of $1 million going to cancer research. A lot of people said it would be tough. In this economy, it is not easy to raise that kind of money.

I have seen a lot of friends, along with others, supporting the event. They have come through as we will have another sellout on May 15th, bringing in another million. It will go to All Children's Hospital and Moffitt Hospital for pediatric cancer research.

If you want to get a take of what this is all about, check out this recent article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. If you go through this column without shedding a tear, something is wrong. Jennifer Shea did a great job.

Our gala will present many stars as we honor Florida coach Billy Donovan and Louisville coach Rick Pitino for their generous actions to so many great causes over the years. They have worked their magic with so many groups.

There will be stars galore from the basketball coaching professions, such as Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Kentucky's John Calipari, Jay Wright of Villanova, Tennessee's Bruce Pearl, new Tampa Bay Bucs coach Rahim Morris, Tubby Smith of Minnesota, Herb Sendek of Arizona State, and a host of others.

The real inspirational heroes will be those who have felt the pain. Read the story in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and you will understand.

I remember last year when we honored the Wright family, listening to Holly and Patrick Wright and what they went through losing their daughter Payton in 2007.

Read about what Tim Berg went through. He was a 12-year old who was an up-and-coming tennis player who battled so courageously and now his cancer is in remission.

You read about Anthony Negron, who came down with a rare form of leukemia. He loved basketball and he battles on ... now he is in remission.

That's why I am thrilled that my buddies and these coaches, who pay their own way and often make their own donation, will be there on May 15th. They will help chase Jimmy V's dream to raise enough dollars to fight this disease, one that affects everybody.

For anyone out there who would like to help us raise the dollars for a research grant, simply make a check out for any amount to The V Foundation, and send it c/o Dick Vitale Inc, 7810 Mathern Court, Lakewood Ranch, Florida 34202. Or you could go to dickvitaleonline.com or call 1-800-4-jimmyv.