May 17, 2008
Thank you, thank you, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, that is all I can say about Friday night's Dickie V gala to raise funds for the Jimmy V Foundation.
Wow, it was a sellout crowd of over 700 at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Florida. It was such a special evening and there were so many wonderful people in attendance.
I can't thank the beautiful sponsors enough. We raised over $1 million for pediatric cancer research.
It was amazing to see how many celebrities came in from all over the country. They paid their own way and in many cases, also donated their own checks in the battle against the dreaded disease.
It was a Who's Who, a night of champions as Sarasota was the basketball capital of the world. Think about these names from the coaching fraternity all being in the same room: Bob Knight, Pat Summitt, Bill Self, Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, John Calipari, Bruce Pearl, Tom Crean, Steve Alford, Rick Barnes, Mike Brey, Matt Doherty, Seth Greenberg, Stan Heath, Fred Hill, Gene Keady, Pat Knight, Eddie Sutton, Jay Wright, Larry Shyatt, Reggie Minton, Harry Perretta, Billie Moore, Gerald Myers and Jerry Dunn.
Consider some of the stars from the pro basketball world: Pat Riley, John Havlicek, Chuck Daly, Mike Fratello, Richie Adubato, Bob Delaney, Ed Pinckney, Mike Woodson, Randy Wittman, Pat Williams.
How about some others from the sports world: Jon Gruden, Mike Alstott, Kellen Winslow, Fred McGriff, Tino Martinez, former Duke All-America Jason Williams, Nick Bollettieri, Justin Gimmelstob, Lightning coach John Tortorella, Lesley Visser, Smokey Gaines, Mannie Jackson (chairman of the Harlem Globetrotters), Jamie Morris, Jeff Torborg.
WOW! Everywhere you looked, fans got to see so many great sports figures.
People were mesmorized by the words of the winningest coaches in the history of college basketball, Knight and Summitt. Then there was the emotion of a speech by Holly Wright, whose little daughter Payton lost her battle with cancer. There wasn't a dry eye in the house after that speech as Holly spoke about what the family went through in Payton's passing.
I can't thank people enough. What a grand slam at the end of the night when Hall of Famer Riley stepped up and donated $100,000 for a live auction item – a party with 50 people at my house with Lorraine and I hosting. There was a major donation from the good folks at Hooters, an organization that has given so much to the V Foundation. Their table was involved in a winning bid to see country superstar Kenny Chesney in concert. Chesney will present the winner with an autographed guitar at that concert in August in Tampa!
I know the people with the V Foundation were thrilled with the evening. Nick Valvano, Joyce Aschenbrenner and John Leshney worked so hard on this event. I also want to send a special thank you to John Saunders, who hosted the event despite a heavy heart. John's father is ill and he is in our thoughts and prayers.
The people in Florida responded in a big way. I cannot thank everybody enough from the bottom of my heart. You are AWESOME BABY! God bless and thank you for making this so special!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.