Not even a torrential downpour could put a damper on the Dick Vitale Gala festivities May 10.
Cancer survivors and their families, sports industry professionals and other supporters gathered at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota for the 14th annual event benefiting the V Foundation for Cancer Research. After a record-setting gala last year that raised $3.7 million for pediatric cancer research, Vitale told press at the pre-gala press conference that he was excited to raise even more this year.
And that he did. According to a V Foundation press release, the event raised more than $4.3 million.
The evening began as VIP guests hurried under a path of umbrella to a pre-gala reception under a tent outside the hotel. They enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres before heading into the ballroom for dinner, several inspiring speeches and an award presentation.
Honorees were ESPN broadcaster Chris Fowler, former NBA and college head coach and NBA championship player Avery Johnson and Clemson University Football Head Coach Dabo Swinney. Vitale also honored ESPN talents Holly Rowe and Lee Corso with the John Saunders V Foundation Courage Award for their dedication to raising awareness and funds for cancer research.
Later in the night, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro and Vitale also announced a grant to be named in memory of Tyler Trent, a 20-year-old Purdue student from Carmel, Indiana, who died Jan. 1 after a five-year battle with a rare form of bone cancer.
The grant, which will support research in the area of adolescent and young adult cancers, will be funded through a joint effort with Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation (CKc). CKc added $100,000 to the funds raised by the V Foundation through a two-week #MatchforTyler campaign.