SARASOTA, Fla. – Given all that has transpired this past year for the man whose name is on the event, attendees at the 17th annual Dick Vitale Gala Friday knew it was going to be a particularly noteworthy evening. It (and he) did not disappoint.
Shattering the previous record, this year’s Gala raised more than $11 million, a staggering total that lifted the cumulative figure to more than $55 million to date.
Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, Jimmy Pitaro (also a V Foundation Board Member) announced that Vitale would be honored at this year’s ESPYS (July 20) with the prestigious Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. That news was met with a rousing ovation.
A tireless and passionate V Foundation Board member for decades, Vitale had bouts with multiple forms of cancer in 2021, plus a separate throat issue that meant he couldn’t talk (and, therefore, work) for months. His exceptional Gala speech echoed themes of the deep gratitude and perspective he’s felt from the outpouring of support. He also spoke passionately about his “All Courageous” team, a group of brave kids who have battled cancer.
The crowd was emotionally moved by Vitale plus a series of other memorable moments, including inspirational words from the honorees (ESPN’s Chris Evert, Rod Gilmore, and Keyshawn Johnson, plus Baylor men’s basketball coach Scott Drew).
The 82-year-old Vitale (turns 83 next month) repeated his pledge to call a game when he’s 100, which would be another record accomplishment from the Hall of Famer. Noted ESPN’s Jay Bilas, who introduced Vitale at the Gala, “Dick is not just the voice of college basketball; he’s been the heart and soul of the sport for decades.”
Jon McLeod produced the video