Dick Vitale threw down the challenge: Raise the most money in his annual gala’s history for pediatric cancer research.
On Saturday, Vitale said they exceeded that $3 million goal by hitting $3.12 million, with the possibility of more donations through checks not yet counted a day after his 12th annual gala at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota. That figure brings the total for the 12 years to $21.3 million raised.
And those figures are after expenses, meaning every cent goes toward pediatric cancer research through the Jimmy V Foundation, which is named after former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano.
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This year’s event honored University of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, West Virginia University men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins and longtime ESPN anchor Chris Berman.
Friday’s gala concluded with a tribute to Berman, who was not in attendance days after his wife, Kathy, passed away in a car accident. Berman, though, donated $100,000 and an additional $30,000 in longtime ESPN colleague John Saunders’ name. Saunders, who passed away in August, was the longtime Vitale Gala emcee. The $30,000 represented $1,000 for each year the two worked together at ESPN.
Next year’s gala is set for May 11 and the honored guests are Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, ESPN radio personality Mike Greenberg and Florida State University men’s basketball coach Leonard Hamilton. There will also be a special tribute for the V Foundation Award; the recipient will be announced at a later date.