The ballroom sparkled even brighter than usual on May 12 at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota for the star-studded 12th Annual Dick Vitale Gala.
More than 850 guests packed the ballroom to support the V Foundation for Cancer Research and celebrate this year’s honorees; University of Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly, ESPN Sports Anchor and Commentator Chris Berman and University of West Virginia head basketball coach Bob Huggins.
The evening began with an emotional press conference during which media heard from Vitale, Kelly, Huggins and V Foundation for Cancer Research CEO Susan Braun, who spoke about why they’re passionate about fighting cancer. Vitale also recognized several cancer patients and survivors in the crowd who inspire him.
During cocktail hour, guests sipped wine, mingled and had the chance to purchase autographed footballs and basketballs signed by this year’s honorees. Once seated for dinner, eventgoers heard from ESPN sports anchor and gala emcee Kevin Negandhi.
“We’re here to honor the kids who wake up everyday without fanfare,” Negandhi says. “They fight harder than any athlete.”
To raise money for these fighters, Negandhi then introduced the live auction, which featured everything from two tickets to the Indy 500 to four spots in the President’s Box at the 2017 U.S. Open.
The mission of the Dick Vitale Gala is to raise money for pediatric cancer research nationwide and to promote awareness of pediatric cancer, so throughout the rest of the evening, patrons heard several touching stories of the effects of pediatric cancer on both patients and their families.