Another Jimmy V Week is over and it is amazing to see how supportive people are in the fight against cancer.
We saw a pair of exciting games, with top-10 squads Villanova and Louisville getting to the winner's circle over a pair of Big Ten teams, as the Wildcats beat Illinois and the Cardinals topped Indiana.
But the big winner that evening was The V Foundation for Cancer Research. We continue to raise the dollars needed to beat the dreaded disease. Since its inception in 1993, the V Foundation has raised over $130 million, but there is the need for more.
Every dollar you donate goes to research. Charity Navigator, which evaluates charitable organizations, gives a four-star rating to the V Foundation.
The bottom line is that we have made great progress in cancer research. Jimmy V's legacy lives on through the fight against cancer. We must beat this dreaded disease which affects so many lives. His life ended so prematurely as a victim of cancer. I cannot believe he has been gone over 20 years, but his impact lives on.
Over the years, the dedication of researchers has helped save so many lives. There is still more work to do until there is a cure for all different forms of cancer.
I have been concerned about pediatric cancer as it has had an influence on my life. A number of youngsters from my area in Florida have passed away too early. Kids should be out playing, not going through the pain of chemotherapy.
Jimmy Valvano and I shared a passion for life. We both had such love for our families and had such a great time working together in the ESPN studio. I remember the laughs we had doing work during the NCAA tournament. I had such a blast with Jimmy over the years. We talked about basketball, about life. His loss had a profound influence on my life.
Some will look at Jimmy V's legacy through basketball. Everyone remembers how his NC State Wolfpack cut down the nets in 1983 in Albuquerque as national champions, in arguably the greatest upset in NCAA tournament history. The vivid pictures of Jimmy looking for someone to hug after the Shock City result still live on. One of his guards, Dereck Whittenburg, played a central role in a wonderful ESPN 30 for 30 film on those great moments.
Jimmy's legacy lives on in this valiant battle against cancer. I see this disease affecting so many people. It doesn't care if you are white or black, Christian or Jewish. It takes no prisoners and it affects the lives of the family members.
I vividly remember Jimmy's passionate speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards, when he said "Don't give up, don't ever give up." He was in so much pain that night and needed help getting up and down from the stage. Yet he was so amazing that evening, and people will always remember his emotional words in such a challenging situation. His courage was amazing, but that was Jimmy V.
I am so proud that The V Foundation for Cancer Research has raised millions and millions of dollars in this war. It gives researchers a fighting chance to find ways to beat this thing, and the progress has saved so many people. There have been so many advances in this battle.
It takes a great team to work on a project like this. People like Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, John Saunders, Bob Lloyd, Jimmy's brother Nick Valvano, Susan Braun, George Bodenheimer and Steve Bornstein have been diligent in working to raise funds for this cause.
People often ask me why I am so driven in the fight against cancer. I have five grandchildren and I have been blessed over the years. I cannot imagine how I would feel if they were ill. There is nothing worse than seeing a mom and dad putting their child to rest.
That is why Jimmy V Week and all the efforts of the V Foundation mean so much to me.
I work all year round to raise money through my Dickie V gala, with the goal of donating $2 million this year to the V Foundation for research grants. My event is in Sarasota, Florida, at the Ritz-Carlton next May. I am so proud of it because so many people work so hard to make it a success. This year we are honoring cancer survivor Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith. These three coaches are giving their time for the fight against cancer. What always makes me proud is the fact that all the celebrities in attendance come down on their own dime. They are not paid a cent and they are happy to be part of the evening.
It is an emotional night as we also honor families that have been affected by cancer. Last year we had Jack Hoffman of Nebraska there, and believe me, there was not a dry eye in the house. There are reflections on their fight. We have been fortunate enough to have many big winners in the greatest game of all, the game of life.
Jimmy V's legacy lives on in such a positive way. I know he is looking down from heaven, so proud of what has been done in his name. I know he would be so proud of the Jimmy V Classic, caring so much about the roundball, baby!
This is the time of year when people help each other out. If you want to help beat this dreaded disease, call 1-800-4-JIMMY V. Do what you can to help. The life you help save could be that of a loved one.