BOZICH | Cancer has never met a tougher opponent than Dick Vitale
Dick Vitale is more of a giver than a taker and more of a doer than a talker. This weekend Vitale and his wife, Lorraine, hope to raise $2.5 million to fight pediatric cancer.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Dick Vitale is a giver, not a taker.
Vitale cares more about helping children beat cancer than he cares about making another sports or broadcaster's Hall of Fame or calling another Louisville, Kentucky or Indiana basketball game.
"I've got five healthy grandchildren," he said. "It breaks my heart whenever I talk to a parent or grandparent who has lost a child. I can't imagine the pain. I really can't imagine."
Vitale is also a doer more than he is a talker -- and he's a world-class talker. I guess that makes him a world-class doer, too.
This weekend Vitale continues his unrelenting work to defeat cancer. He and his delightful wife, Lorraine, will host their 11th annual Gala for the V Foundation with the funds earmarked for pediatric cancer research. An event that started in the Vitale family home has grown into one of the V Foundation's largest fund-raisers.
The Vitales have raised more than $15.2 million with a goal of an additional $2.5 million this year. That would be $200,000 more than they raised in 2015.
John Calipari of UK, Rick Pitino of U of L and IU's Tom Crean have assisted him as co-hosts in previous years. This year, Robin Roberts (a cancer survivor) of Good Morning America, former Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan and Urban Meyer of Ohio State are assisting Vitale.
One highlight Friday night: Meyer and Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh will select the winner of a raffle for a red Mercedes. Vitale said that 1,500 tickets priced at $100 were sold for the vehicle.
Tickets for the event, priced at $1,000, were scheduled to be limited at 800, but Vitale said 861 have been sold.
"This has truly become my passion," Vitale said. "Every year I become so attached to these kids that I'm never going to let cancer win. I'm obsessed with beating this terrible disease."
Vitale said that Calipari has donated four tickets for the UK-UCLA basketball game at Rupp Arena next fall, complete with behind the scenes access in the UK locker room. Those tickets will be auctioned Friday night during the event at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Bradenton.
Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez has contributed a similar package for a game at Yankee Stadium as has Roberts at "Good Morning America."
Vitale said that Pitino and Crean remain supporters of the event.
Chris Fowler, John Saunders, Dan Shulman and Seth Greenberg of ESPN will appear as will South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin, Steve Alford of UCLA, Josh Pastner of Georgia Tech, Bruce Pearl of Auburn and Bob Huggins of West Virginia.
There will be a special presentation of a $200,000 check for a research grant for a Detroit-area hospital in honor of Chad Carr, the grandson of former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, who was 5 when he died because of an inoperable brain tumor in November.
You can contribute by calling 941-374-6026 or by visiting www.dickvitaleonline.com.
"We can't let stories like that keep happening," Vitale said. "We have to defeat this terrible disease. We have to."
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