Dickie V gala raises $1 million

Dick Vitale poses with Jay Wright, left, Mary Kenealy Barbetta, and Gary Williams, right, at the Dickie V Gala. Courtesy of Dick Vitale

I was so thrilled and proud as the Dickie V. Gala reached its goal of raising $1 million for cancer research. I cannot thank everyone involved enough as the event was a great success.

It was an incredible night and the support was absolutely amazing. I think about the great team which helped put this all together, like the V Foundation with Nick Valvano and Joyce Aschenbrenner; our event planner Mary Kenealy Barbetta, who did a fantastic job in putting on a first-class event in every way possible.

My family, my wife Lorraine and my girls Sherri and Terri (as well as their husbands) were so instrumental in the gala. ESPN had so many people come through and help. I was so touched by president George Bodenheimer's kind words. Josh Krulewitz of the PR department and Howie Schwab helped make this event possible as over 850 people attended the event at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota.

It was all for a great cause, raising money for kids battling cancer. We honored three families who lost their children to the dreaded disease -- The Teis family, the Weber family and the Littlejohn family. It was such an emotional evening.

Dr. Kurt Weiss brought down the house telling the story of how he beat cancer. It was an unbelivable speech which captivated and motivated the crowd.

A pair of youngsters, Tatum Parker and Darren Shanks, shared their story of courage and how they are giving back to others. They are signs of beating cancer.

I was so thrilled when we gave grants to All-Children's and to Moffitt Hospital.

I was on the verge of crying when Nick Valvano announced plans to have a fellowship in my name for cancer research. It will be done annually, even after I am long gone. That was such a special moment!

Sarasota was the sports capital of the world with the who's who flying in. There were college basketball, coaches galore as Roy Williams and John Calipari were honorees. Other coaches that joined us included Jim Calhoun, Brad Stevens, Shaka Smart, Billy Donovan, Bob Huggins, Tubby Smith, Jay Wright, Jamie Dixon, Josh Pastner, Gary Williams, Travis Ford, Bruiser Flint, Derek Kellogg, Tony Barbee, Cuonzo Martin, Matt Doherty, Barry Rohrssen, Seth Greenberg, Mark Gottfried, Ben Howland, Ray McCallum, Fred Hill ... wow!

If you loved the NBA, guys like Larry Brown, Stan Van Gundy, Mike Fratello and Richie Adubato were there.

We had quite a lineup of former players with Christian Laettner, Vince Carter, Dave Cowens, Rod Strickland and Jim Jackson there.

Football was well represented with former Heisman winners Desmond Howard, Vinny Testaverde and Chris Weinke were in attendance. A number of NFL players were there, including Sam Shields, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and David Baas. Former Bucs Mark Carrier was also there. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher graced us with his presence.

Baseball had Gary Sheffield, Tino Martinez and Tom Niedenfuer among the stars that shined.

Peter Vecsey of the NY Post, Lesley Visser of CBS and Erin Andrews and Rece Davis of ESPN were among the media stars in attendance.

It was a night I will always remember. The most important aspect was raising money for cancer research as the V Fondation continues its fight against this dreaded disease. You can help out by calling 1-800-4-JIMMY-V. Next year, we will honor Jay Wright, Gary Williams and Lou Holtz and it should be another special event.