The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a top-rated cancer research charity, and ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Dick Vitale are proud to announce the 12th Annual Dick Vitale Gala will be held on Friday, May 12, 2017, at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota in Florida. Through Vitale’s relentless fight to achieve victory over pediatric cancer, the Gala has raised more than $18 million to date. This year’s event will honor ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Chris Berman, West Virginia University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins and University of Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Kelly. Throughout the evening, the late John Saunders, a founding member of the V Foundation’s Board of Directors and 10-time emcee of the Dick Vitale Gala, will also be remembered and celebrated as an avid supporter of cancer research.
“I am so proud to be associated with all the passionate people of the V Foundation who do so much to raise dollars to battle this vicious disease. My team works 24/7 to make this event the best celebration in our area,” Vitale said. “We will pay tribute to my late buddy, John Saunders, and I am so grateful to our celebrity honorees, Brian Kelly, Chris Berman and Bob Huggins, for assisting us in pursuing my goal of raising $3 million this year to help kids battling cancer.”
Recruiting some of the biggest names in sports to his Gala each year, Vitale continues to build the support and momentum needed to defeat pediatric cancer. With just four percent of federal cancer research funding dedicated to pediatric cancer, Vitale and the V Foundation are eager to make a significant impact in finding cures for the leading cause of death by disease in American children.
Vitale and the V Foundation anticipate more than 800 attendees this year and are excited to honor three great sports figures. Berman, a six-time National Sportscaster of the Year winner, has hosted ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown for 31 seasons and been a part of SportsCenter for more than 38 years, while also remaining a longtime supporter of cancer research and the V Foundation. Huggins recently won his 800th college basketball game as a head coach, just the 10th NCAA Division I coach to do so. Huggins previously established an endowment fund at the WVU Cancer Institute in honor of his mother who passed away from breast cancer. Kelly, an Associated Press and Walter Camp National Coach of the Year award winner, has led Notre Dame’s football program to over 40 victories in his seven years as head coach, including a National Championship game appearance. In 2007, Kelly, along with his wife Paqui, who is a two-time cancer survivor, founded the Kelly Cares Foundation. Each honoree will speak at the Gala.
“Children who have cancer need our help! Dick and Lorraine Vitale and their wonderful team step up each day and answer that call,” said Susan Braun, CEO of the V Foundation. “Their work provides hope and much-needed funding for pediatric cancer research, and it is the advancements offered through research that save lives. There are no better champions for our kids!”
Established in loving memory of one of the V Foundation’s most steadfast supporters and ESPN’s most visible and versatile commentators, the John Saunders Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research will be a focus of the evening. As colleagues at ESPN, Vitale and Saunders became close with Jim Valvano and have helped sustain the legendary NC State University basketball coach’s legacy by supporting the V Foundation. The V Foundation and Vitale will honor their friend and continue to carry his passion for years to come.
The Dick Vitale Gala is a V Foundation signature event and part of the Foundation’s Not a Moment to Lose fundraising campaign. First announced by V Foundation Board Member Robin Roberts during a Monday Night Football game in December, the campaign aims to raise $200 million by 2020 and strategically focus on emerging, high-impact research opportunities. In addition to pediatric cancer research, areas of scientific research to be funded include the study of prevention signals, clinical trials, immunotherapy pathways, big data collaborations, convergence projects and translational research.
For more information about the 12th Annual Dick Vitale Gala or to purchase tickets, please visit www.jimmyv.org/vitale.