Vitale to be honored twice next week in New York

adell@bradenton.comJune 19, 2014 

Dick Vitale addresses a crowd before the annual Dick Vitale Gala at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota Friday night. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald


LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Dick Vitale's passion for basketball and helping kids fight cancer are the focus of his life.

It's why next week is so special for the ESPN college basketball television guru, who has raised nearly $13 million to help children battle cancer.

The American Cancer Society will honor Vitale Tuesday at the Cipriani Restaurant in midtown Manhattan at its ninth-annual Financial Services Cares Gala.

The next night at Cipriani's, Vitale will receive the fifth-annual Court of Honor Award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Vitale has received numerous awards for basketball and has been inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. But being honored by the American Cancer Society is special to him.

At its Financial Services Cares Gala, the American Cancer Society honors

a prominent philanthropic leader with the Eugene Kelly Award in honor of the man who was considered a champion of philanthropy and volunteerism in the financial services business.

"I have goose bumps I can't believe it," Vitale said. "To receive an award in the name of a great philanthropist is overwhelming. It involves kids battling cancer and now until my last breath I am going to beg and plead for dollars to help those kids.

The annual Dick Vitale Gala raised a record $2.1 million last May bringing the total amount in its nine years to $12.7 million.

"All the awards belong to my team," Vitale said. "It's an incredible group of people who have supported me and helped me in all of the things I've been trying to do. I cannot thank them enough. I sincerely believe these awards are also a part of their lives."

Vitale will receive the fifth annual Court of Honor Award, which goes to an individual who has roots in college basketball, values those roots and has gone on to distinguish himself in his profession, exhibiting the highest standards of leadership.

The previous recipients of the award are: Jerry Colangelo, chairman of USA Basketball; former US sen. and Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Bradley, who won two NBA titles with the Knicks; Phil Knight, chairman and co-founder of Nike; and Jim Nantz, of CBS Sports.

"It's one of the highest honors you can receive and I am humbled. To be mentioned in the same group as those who received this award is an honor" Vitale said.

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