BRADENTON -- Dick Vitale gets to do two things closest to his heart this weekend -- and the public is invited.
The ESPN college basketball analyst will partake with IMG Academies in the inaugural Shoot Down Cancer Free Throw Shootout on Saturday.
Everyone is invited, and it’s for a great cause: the fight against cancer.
It’s an opportunity for wannabe basketballers to show their stuff in front of a college hoops guru and donate money to a worthy cause.
The IMG Basketball Academy came up with the idea, and its campus will be the host. It will accept registrations at 8 a.m. Saturday and start the event at 9 a.m. IMG Basketball Academy personnel are expected to participate. Vitale will be there from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
During the event, participants will shoot 150 free throws. Anyone can be a part of the event by pledging money per free throw, giving a lump sum or by signing up to participate.
“I am going to be there to encourage people and thank those for participating, but I might shoot some free throws. I’ve always been a good free throw shooter,” Vitale said. “I want nothing but nylon. I challenge those young kids to make their free throws. I want no brick city. I want nothing but nylon. I want to see a bunch of Reggie Millers or guys who are automatic from the line.”
The event coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. The aim is to help in the fight against breast and other cancers and raise awareness about healthy living in young people.
The event will benefit The V Foundation for Cancer Research, started in 1993 by ESPN and legendary North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano, who lost his life to cancer. The V Foundation has raised more than $100 million and awarded cancer research grants in nearly 40 states.
“All the monies will go The V Foundation and part of the money I raise annually for kids battling cancer,” Vitale said. “IMG does a phenomenal job. They care about people and know about my involvement. They called and asked if I would be part of it, and I said absolutely.”
Anyone can participate. There is a $100 entry fee or anyone can sponsor a participant and pledge any amount they chose for each free throw a participant makes. The event is open to the public to watch, and there is no admission fee.
In addition to the free throw shootout, guests will have the opportunity to honor loved ones who have fought or are currently fighting cancer by writing their name on commemorative basketballs that will become a part of a permanent Shoot Down Cancer Memory Wall.
All the participants will receive Shoot Down Cancer award medals and Under Armour performance shirts. Additionally, there will be a handful of prizes given out to both participants and to guests in the crowd.
Through initiatives such as this free throw shootout, the IMG Basketball Academy said it hopes to give young people the knowledge and tools to make a difference in their own lives and others’ lives in the fight against cancer.
“While sports pale in comparison to the fight against cancer, the importance of free throws offers a reminder of the importance of the small things,” an IMG statement said.
“The fight of cancer depends on raising money and awareness through small acts of generosity and kindness. While one dollar may not seem to hold much weight, that dollar makes a difference.”
Each of the 12 baskets at the IMG Basketball Academy will consist of a 10-person team. In a round, each person on each team will shoot 20 free throws. Once all ten members of each team have completed the 20 free throws, teams will rotate to another hoop in the gym. Each hoop will include a cancer fact aimed to help raise awareness for all participants.
Awards will be given to the top five individuals and the top team.