Behind The Scenes

Duke Children’s Hospital patients read Jim Valvano’s ESPYS speech


This year, ESPN and The V Foundation launched a new round of public service announcements (PSA) as part of the seventh annual Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research. The new PSA campaign features dozens of athletes, celebrities and ESPN personalities reciting Jim Valvano’s iconic 1993 ESPYs speech.

ESPN also worked closely with Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center to create a special version of the PSA, as seen in the video above. Produced by MaggieVision and set to the soundtrack of John Mayer’s “Say,” the PSA features pediatric patients, family members and caregivers reminding viewers to never give up.

“Every year, our team is tasked with thinking of a creative way to grow awareness of Jimmy V Week,” said Riki McDermott, ESPN’s associate manager of marketing. “This year, we were inspired by a beautiful video of patients at a children’s hospital singing Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’. Our goal was to try and create a shareable piece of content that reached beyond sports fans – touching women, families, etc.”

McDermott, the ESPN social media team and MaggieVision personnel flew to Durham, N.C., where the hospital is based. They spent a day filming patients, family members, doctors and nurses, all of whom were eager to be involved.

“It was a thrill to be approached by ESPN and The V Foundation and to participate in the video,” said Daniel Wechsler, MD, PhD, Chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the hospital. “Jimmy V’s inspirational words – ‘Never give up’ – motivate us every day to provide the best possible care to our pediatric cancer patients at Duke and to seek new treatment approaches. These brave kids, who have faced unimaginable difficulties yet emerged stronger, truly exemplify the meaning of Jimmy’s words.

“Every time I watch the video, I get choked up,” he said. “Our Duke pediatric patients receive their treatments at the Valvano Day Hospital, where we are reminded on a daily basis of Jimmy’s fight – I am so thrilled they were able to personify Jimmy’s drive in this video.”

ESPN’s multi-platform Jimmy V Week initiative continues through tomorrow, with the Jimmy V Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics. The 12th annual women’s showdown will feature No. 1 Connecticut at No. 2 Duke (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) from Cameron Indoor Stadium, also in Durham, N.C. The 19th annual men’s doubleheader from Madison Square Garden will match undefeated Pittsburgh versus Cincinnati (7 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Radio) and nationally ranked powers Florida versus Memphis (9:30 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Radio).

To make a donation to The V Foundation, viewers may call 1-800-4-JIMMY-V or visit

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