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Vitale pens first children's book

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 9, 2011
Dick Vitale is donating the proceeds from his book, which retails for $14.95, toward pediatric cancer research.
Dick Vitale is donating the proceeds from his book, which retails for $14.95, toward pediatric cancer research.
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LAKEWOOD RANCH — Legendary ESPN basketball commentator Dick Vitale may give frequent shout outs to collegiate “diaper dandies” on the basketball court, but the Lakewood Ranch resident now is turning his attention to those who more accurately fit the description.

Last month, Vitale launched the Dick Vitale Children’s Literacy initiative with the release of his newest masterpiece — “Dickie V.’s ABCs and 1-2-3s: A Great Start for Young Superstars.”

“Reading is such a vital (part) of possessing knowledge, and with knowledge is power,” Vitale said, noting the book is a great tool for families to sit down together and share a love for reading. “The idea is to really create (good habits). Habits can be good or habits can be bad.”

The new children’s book, which targets ages 2-6, hit local bookstores and in mid-January.
“I love the fact of the simplicity involved,” Vitale said of the book.

The book takes young readers through the alphabet with Vitale’s unique basketball enthusiasm — “S” is for Superstar and “T” is for team, for example. Young readers even can push a button to hear Vitale’s own voice spurring them on in their reading efforts.

Sitting at a table in The Broken Egg restaurant in Lakewood Ranch, where Vitale often is available from 10 a.m. to noon, weekdays, to give autographs, Vitale folded up the sports section of the newspaper and reached across the table for the fruit of his latest venture.

Vitale flipped through the book, admiring the vibrant colors and drawings on each page, in search of his favorite illustration by illustrator Craig Lueck.

“I like bears, so ‘B’ is for ‘Baby,’” Vitale said, pointing across the page. “(It) goes with my “Awesome, baby!”
Vitale, who has authored several books, including “Dick Vitale’s Fabulous 50 Players & Moments in College Basketball,” said he had never considered writing a children’s book until being approached by publisher Ascend Books with the idea about a year ago.

“I’ve always loved kids, having five little grandchildren myself,” Vitale said. “I just ran with it. Now I’m caught up with it. I’m a kid at heart.”

All of the proceeds will go toward Vitale’s goal of raising $1 million for a pediatric cancer research grant through the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

“A million dollars isn’t easy to raise, but we’ve done it five years in a row, and we hope to do it again,” Vitale said.

The book’s release follows Vitale’s strong support of the Payton Wright Foundation. The East County-based organization is in memory of Payton Wright, the Lakewood Ranch girl who passed away at age 5 from a rare form of brain cancer. Her parents, Patrick and Holly Wright, founded the organization in 2008, and since then, Vitale has used his celebrity to bring national and international awareness to Payton’s cause.

Now, Vitale is working on developing a second motivational book for children ages 7 to 12. The book, Vitale said, will include thoughts of pride, respect, enthusiasm and more.

“Little things I believe in,” he said. “Passion plus work ethic plus good decision making equals win in the game of life. Theories like that.”

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].


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