Vitale gives V Foundation another boost

Special to the HeraldFebruary 11, 2014 

VitaleDick Vitale addresses the media at the Sarasota Ritz Carlton Hotel for the annual Dick Vitale Gala to benefit Cancer research. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

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Dick Vitale is recognized as the voice of college basketball but his work away from the camera with the V Foundation Cancer Research carries a great impact, too.

Monday night, Vitale who's been with ESPN for more than two decades, gave a heart-warming speech as keynote speaker at Crown Eurocars in St. Petersburg, a fundraiser for the V Foundation and pediatric cancer research.

There was an auction of autograph paraphernalia, a chance to win a new car and tons of food. All for a great cause.

In attendance was his wife, Lorraine Vitale; IMG's Nick Bollettieri, founder of Bollettieri Tennis program; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi; and former University of Michigan basketball standout Jerod Ward.

"Donate. That is the only thing we can do. Raise money and help fight cancer," Bollettieri said. "I'd like to thank Dick for all he has done and his friendship is second to none."

Former National Basketball Association player and current Out-Of-Door Academy boys head coach Marcus Liberty was there, too.

"I'd do anything to help that man. He has such a big heart and it's genuine," Liberty said.

Vitale spoke on his V Foundation work, the plan to raise more money and related a touching story about the cause.

"No child should have to fight through chemo. I will work until my last breath to help raise money in the fight against cancer," Vitale said. "We've been able to raise more than $150 million in research but it's not enough. We have to keep working."

He also talked about three local children who passed away from cancer recently.

"No parent should ever have to bury their child," Vitale said.

Vitale's ninth-annual gala for the V Foundation will be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota May 16 honoring Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey and Indiana head basketball coach Tom Crean.

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