Dick Vitale Gala

Dick Vitale Gala Raises $7.4 Million Bringing Total to $37 Million for Pediatric Cancer Research

The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a top-rated cancer research charity, and ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Dick Vitale announce the 15th Annual Dick Vitale Gala, “Passion 4 Pediatrics,” in conjunction with Vitale’s year-round fundraising, raised more than $7.4 million for pediatric cancer research, bringing the total raised over the past 15 years to $37 million.  The annual Gala, originally scheduled for May and one of the largest in Sarasota – Bradenton, was postponed and then transitioned to a virtual event in July due to the COVID-19.

“I am in awe of the generosity and kindness shown in making this Gala so special,” said Vitale. “To think that we achieved record-breaking numbers with a virtual gala while facing the challenging pandemic is simply a tribute to all the beautiful people that joined in to help kids battling cancer. All I can say is, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,’ to everyone that was part of this incredible effort.”

Dick Vitale Gala Event Highlights

Mary Kenealy Events, the event planning and management company for the past 15 years, orchestrated the re-creation of the Dick Vitale Gala to a virtual experience worthy of the caliber and reputation of this nationally known fundraiser that draws major sponsors from across the country and sports and entertainment celebrities.   Sponsors and major donors were given enhancements to their packages to offset the lack of the live event, offering special VIP treatment to provide more value.

This year’s event honored Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians, Gonzaga University Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Few and ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith. Additionally, two John Saunders V Foundation Courage Award recipients were recognized for their personal, professional and philanthropic achievements – Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly and co-founder of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and Basketball Hall of Famer Pat Williams.

V Scholar grants

During the Gala, Vitale announced the naming of two V Scholar grants, the Mark Pentecost Pediatric Cancer Research Grant in Memory of Will DeGregorio and the Cindy Pentecost Pediatric Cancer Research Grant in Memory of Chika Jeune. Mark and Cindy Pentecost provided a generous donation to the V Foundation.

“We are honored to champion a great cause, such as pediatric cancer research.  The V Foundation has grit, heart, and spirit,” said Cindy and Mark Pentecost.  “Thank you to Dickie V for his commitment and leadership through the years.”

The 2021 Dick Vitale Gala is already on the books for Friday, May 7th at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota.  The honorees will be University of Florida Head Football Coach Dan Mullen, Auburn Head Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl, Notre Dame Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Muffitt McGraw and ESPN Host Scott Van Pelt.  The V Foundation John Saunders Courage Award will be presented to ESPN NFL Football Analyst Chris Mortensen. 

For information or to make a donation, please call 941-350-0580, email rebecca@marykenealyevents.com or donate at v.org/donate4kids.

About the V Foundation for Cancer Research

The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State University basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, the Foundation has funded more than $250 million in cancer research grants nationwide. Event proceeds benefit cancer research funded by the V Foundation. The Foundation awards peer-reviewed grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Committee. For more information on the V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit v.org.   

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