It was an incredible night at the Dick Vitale gala last Friday. It was a sellout: Over 800 at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota as we raised over $1 million for the V Foundation and cancer research.
Sarasota was the sports capital of the world that night. We honored Tom Izzo and Tony Dungy, and the celebrities came out in full force. The college basketball coaching world was well represented with Roy Williams, John Calipari, Gary Williams, Bob Huggins, Brad Stevens, Bruce Pearl, Jay Wright, Ben Howland, Lefty Driesell, Steve Alford, Gene Keady, Mike Brey, Oliver Purnell, Brian Gregory, Tom Crean, Herb Sendek, Frank Martin, Isiah Thomas, Ray McCallum, Steve Lavin, Izzo and Chuck Driesell all in attendance.
There were also a host of others like Magic Johnson, Tommy Lasorda, Kenny Chesney, Mike Fratello and on and on.
It was an emotional night, too, as Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich and young Jake Olson, both cancer survivors, spoke bravely about their ordeals. They have such a positive outlook and the evening was all about hope.
I can't say thank you enough to all of the beautiful people in attendance. Mike Greenberg was there from Mike and Mike in the Morning. They held their radio show at the Ritz-Carlton earlier that morning. Greeny did a phenomenal job introducing me and I truly appreciated it.
I had a blast. It was such a special evening and the outpouring of love in the room was truly heartfelt. We have to beat this dreaded disease and that is Jimmy V's legacy. We are approaching $100 million raised by the V Foundation over the years.
I am heading into the final chapter of my life and, while we probably won't find a cure in my lifetime, the progress made in recent years is so impressive. We have to keep going and helping in this war.
It is going to be tough to top this year's gala. Next year we will be honoring Roy Williams and Calipari, as well as tennis guru Nick Bollettieri. Make your plans now and don't get left out -- the date is May 20, 2011. Mark it down already ... let us raise another million to help kids battling cancer!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for those who have worked so hard to make this a reality.