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Monday, May 20, 2013
Bowden, Calhoun, Self honored

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

It was a special, special weekend down in Sarasota, Florida. We raised so much money for the V Foundation. Cancer research is so, so important as the late, great Jim Valvano said near the end of his life.

The Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota became the sports capital of the world with over 80 sports celebrities and over 850 people in attendance overall. We met our goal of raising over $1 million for cancer research. The final totals are still being accumulated, but the weekend was a great success.

We raised awareness in this battle to beat the dreaded disease. There were a number of youngsters brought on stage to show that the dollars work in helping save lives.

I cannot thank the honorees -- Jim Calhoun, Bobby Bowden and Bill Self -- enough for their generosity and time. The sponsors did so much to help the cause. The people behind the scenes, Mary Kenealy, Janet Allen and Elise Kashmiry, were so special, working so hard to make this happen. This is a year-round project, and the logistics are incredible.

I want to thank my family for their support. My wife, Lorraine, is a rock through this event. It is so emotional, seeing these kids and telling their stories.

Andy Enfield
Andy Enfield (right) was among the many college coaches in attendence at Friday's gala.

It is hard to believe that Jimmy V. passed away 20 years ago. The legacy he created to battle cancer was on the minds of all in that room on Friday night. Jimmy said he needed his friends to gather and fight, and that is exactly what they did.

Thanks to so many great people, we have reached many lofty goals. We went over the $10 million mark for total dollars raised at the Dickie V galas. Year after year, people have shown so much heart, they have done so much to help us in our effort.

It is so important to win this battle against cancer. Kids should be playing outside and not having to deal with chemotherapy. We have made some great strides over the years. There is still a lot of work to be done.

I am obsessed with this fight. I will beg and plead and go to war against cancer until my last breath. I have selfish reasons to be involved in this fight. I have five beautiful grandchildren, Connor, Jake, Ava, Ryan and Sydney, ages 7-11, and I don't know what I would do if, god forbid, the day ever comes that any of them got that kind of news.

It was an incredible evening, with the Temptations, led by Dennis Edwards, performing at the end of the night. Everywhere you looked, there was another college basketball coach there, lending their support. Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, Tom Crean, Mike Brey, Leonard Hamilton, Jay Wright, Steve Alford, Mark Gottfried, Jim Larranaga, Denny Crum, Andy Enfield and the list went on and on. People like Artis Gilmore, Heisman winner Chris Weinke, Warrick Dunn, Jimbo Fisher, Nick Bollettieri, Papa John of pizza fame, TV personality Jack Hanna, Bucs running back Doug Martin, and so many more, came through to help.A numer of ESPN personalities were there, including emcee Dan Shulman, Kevin Negandhi, Seth Greenberg and Bruce Pearl.

Thanks to everyone on my team for putting together a first-class event. I also want to thank the media for doing an amazing job covering the event and helping raise awareness, which translated into donations.

It was a night and weekend I will always treasure.