MANATEE — Dickie V. has pediatric cancer on the run.
One wonders if pediatric cancer is nervous about this fast-breaking, open court hustling, wiry human named Dick Vitale, Lakewood Ranch’s most famous sportscaster.
This is a disease that runs up the points against little children.
But Vitale, who often says he can’t run or jump but has the soul of an athlete, is rallying the world against cancer like a coach delivering a “Not in our house” half time locker room speech.
Vitale, who is fighting the disease on Twitter, on dickvitaleonline and even on his ESPN broadcasts, announced Monday that his 6th Annual Dick Vitale Gala in Sarasota raised an all-time gala record of $1.3 million for pediatric cancer research.
He also said he doesn’t just want to beat this cancer that claims young children, he wants to rout it, crush it, completely destroy it.“We’ve raised a lot of money, but it’s still not enough,” Vitale said. “I won’t rest until we find a cure for pediatric cancer.”
Vitale’s chances seems like an ant’s against a grasshopper, but Vitale says that winning is a number’s game.
To him, every dollar that he raises for research is like putting one point on the board and the points add up.
“There are 12 million Americans who are surviving cancer due to research,” said Vitale, who added that one of every two males and one of every three females in the United States will get the disease sometime in their lives.
Vitale’s willingness to take on a foe that seems unstoppable has garnered the attention of many.
“It takes a community of people rallied together to beat this disease,” said Neil Spirtas of the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce, when asked to comment Monday on the Gala’s record haul. “Dickie V. is passionate about this fight. Anyone who has that kind of desire to win you just got to love.”
The Tampa Bay Sports Commission is honoring Vitale with its first lifetime achievement award this coming week.
Vitale called Gary Carter last week and reached the former New York Mets catcher in the hospital, where he is being treated for multiple brain tumors that may be cancerous.
“I told him he will be in my prayers, and I reminded him that he’s as tough as they come,” Vitale said. “Gary may have a battle in front of him, but we are all in it with him.”
Donations as little as $1 for child brain cancer can be sent by mail to: “A Point on the Board,” C/O The V Foundation, 106 Towerview, Cary, N.C., 27513 or by calling 1-800-4JIMMYV.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.