Dick Vitale Gala Raises $12.4 Million for Pediatric Cancer Research
This past weekend, beloved college basketball announcer and Sarasota resident Dick Vitale once again threw a star-studded party to raise money for pediatric cancer research, and he set a new fundraising record in the process. Friday's dinner netted $12.4 million for the cause, a new record for the event, and brings the total amount raised by Vitale and his annual gala to more than $67 million.
The money goes to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a nonprofit founded by college basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993. The organization has awarded more than $310 million in cancer research grants in the past 30 years.
As it always does, this year's Vitale gala brought out a bevy of sports and media stars, including tennis great John McEnroe and National Basketball Association legend David Robinson, both of whom were among a handful of sports stars honored for their work with the V Foundation.
Vitale was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2021 and underwent seven months of chemotherapy treatments at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. At a press conference before Friday's gala, he teared up while speaking about his feelings of fear and isolation during those months. "I get emotional thinking about people going through that," he said. "I'm 83. I've lived a full life. I can't imagine young kids going through that and the parents who have to live with that."
"After retiring, I realized that the work I did on the court was probably the least important work I'm going to do in my life," said David Robinson, who serves on the V Foundation board and was honored Friday night. "I lost my mother [to breast cancer] last year. It is something that affects all of us, and when you face it, you never want to be alone. Dick makes sure that people are not alone."
Other sports figures honored Friday included former Major League Baseball champion and most valuable player Buster Posey, ESPN tennis analyst Patrick McEnroe, University of Tennessee men's basketball coach Rick Barnes and former North Carolina State University basketball player Dereck Whittenburg. Attendees included former Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez, ESPN announcer Kevin Negandhi, University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Dan Hurley, University of Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery, University of Florida men's basketball coach Todd Golden, Florida State University men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton, University of Texas men's basketball coach Rodney Terry, University of Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman and former Major League Baseball star Fred McGriff.
Robinson said that longtime San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whom he played for, has encouraged him and other athletes to "understand that there is more to life than just basketball" and to not get caught up in fame or immediate gratification. "Nothing happens overnight—no reputation, no change in the community," Robinson said. "He's encouraged us all to find those things where we can make a difference."