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12th Annual Dick Vitale Gala Recruits Celebrities and Supporters to Help Achieve Victory Over Pediatric Cancer

The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a top-rated cancer research charity, and ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Dick Vitale are excited to announce a growing list of sports and entertainment celebrities scheduled to attend the 12th Annual Dick Vitale Gala.  The event, which will be held on Friday, May 12, 2017, will draw hundreds of supporters to The Ritz Carlton Sarasota in Florida to further groundbreaking advancements in pediatric cancer research.  Throughout the evening, the late John Saunders, founding member of the V Foundation’s Board of Directors and 10-time emcee of the Dick Vitale Gala, will also be remembered fondly for his dedication to achieving victory over cancer.  Established in loving memory, funding the John Saunders Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research will be a focus of this year’s Gala.

“We are so ecstatic with the support and generosity shown to this year’s gala, and we are thrilled that the event is completely sold out! Our goal of $3 million can now become a reality,” said Vitale. “This year’s gala will be filled with many surprises, but the one thing you can be certain of is that Jimmy Valvano’s philosophy for life will be honored, and the guests will be moved to laughter, thought and tears. We are so proud of the celebrities joining us, and we hope to have a record-breaking year!”

Propelled by a sense of urgency to defeat the leading cause of death by disease in American children, celebrities will gather in support of the V Foundation and this year’s all-star Gala honorees: ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Chris Berman, West Virginia University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins and University of Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Kelly.  Notable NCAA Division I men’s basketball college coaches scheduled to attend include Frank Martin (South Carolina), Bill Self (Kansas), Jay Wright (Villanova), Mike White (Florida), Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Jim Larrañaga (Miami), Leonard Hamilton (Florida State), Kevin Keatts (NC State), Tubby Smith (Memphis), Joe Dooley (Florida Gulf Coast), Johnny Dawkins (Central Florida) and Brian Gregory (South Florida).  Current and former National Football League and collegiate standouts to be in attendance include David Baas, Trey Burton, Willie Clark, Jeff Faine, Ricky Jean Francois, Todd Johnson, Ron Powlus, and Renaldo Wynn.  Current and former Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association players are also expected to attend.  Television and movie star sisters Judy and Audrey Landers, as well as daredevil Nik Wallenda will also be present.

“Each year, Dick Vitale brings his boundless energy and extraordinary passion for stopping pediatric cancers to his annual Gala,” said Susan Braun, CEO of The V Foundation. “His enthusiasm for helping children is contagious, and we are excited to join him for an incredible evening in support of saving young lives.”

With only four percent of federal funding dedicated to pediatric cancer research, the V Foundation has amplified its efforts to stop children’s cancers.  Vitale continues to be a champion for the cause, having raised more than $18 million through his Gala over the last 11 years.  Funds from this year’s event will contribute to the Not a Moment to Lose campaign, which is strategically focused on emerging, high-impact research opportunities.  In addition to pediatric cancer research, areas of scientific research to be funded through Not a Moment to Lose include the study of prevention signals, clinical trials, immunotherapy pathways, big data collaborations, convergence projects and translational research.

For more information about the 12th Annual Dick Vitale Gala or to purchase tickets, please visit www.jimmyv.org/vitale.