Dick Vitale: Remembering Jim Valvano today, this week and every

I’m excited to be calling the Iowa-Duke game on Tuesday at the Mecca of college basketball, Madison Square Garden. It is part of the Jimmy V Classic.

More than ever, after battling melanoma and lymphoma, going through the chemotherapy, the scans and blood work, my heart goes out to every cancer patient out there. I know what they go through. The messages and letters of support were so vital in my recovery.

The Jimmy V Classic is always special, and having four ranked teams in action is thrilling. Texas and Illinois will meet in the second game. It will be fun to see Kris Murray, Tyrese Hunter, Dereck Lively, Terrence Shannon and others in action.

This is an important week at ESPN. The annual Jimmy V week helps raise funds to battle the dreaded disease of cancer. I ask from the bottom of my heart for everyone to please donate if you can. You could help save someone you love.

The problem is, cancer never ends. We will not stop chasing the dream of eliminating cancer. I am currently cancer free, it doesn’t stop. I still have to do scans and exams and bloodwork. We need dollars, so please help. You can go to www.v.org/donate or dickvitaleonline.com to help. 100 percent of donations go directly to cancer research.

It is hard to believe that Jim Valvano has been gone for almost 30 years – the dreaded disease which took his life prematurely in May of 1993. His legacy lives on as we fight cancer. And we have made progress.

The V Foundation has raised millions of dollars, and it has helped, but there is still a long way to go. The grants have helped cure numerous cancers and the progress is great.

Jimmy was such a special person. I cannot believe he has been gone so long. We must beat this disease which impacts so many lives.

I’ve heard so many stories of people whose families have been affected by cancer. The good news is the progress made to improve this fight. There is still a long way to go.

Jimmy and I shared a passion for life. We both had such love for our families and had such a great time working together in the ESPN studio. I remember the laughs we had doing work during the tournament.

Some fans will look at Jimmy V’s legacy through basketball as his Wolfpack cut down the nets in Albuquerque as national champions in one of the greatest upsets ever. It was so memorable in 1983, ending with Lorenzo Charles’ winning basket, which lives on in the minds of fans who love Cinderella stories.

I believe his legacy lives on in this valiant battle against cancer. That is quite a legacy to appreciate.

I remember vividly attending when Jimmy gave his amazing speech when he said “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” He was in so much pain that night, needing help going up on stage and coming back down. Yet he was so amazing that evening, and people will always remember his passion and emotion in such a difficult situation.

That speech was a huge part of his legacy for sure. People to this day still talk about that speech and his courage in giving it. It was a legendary moment that will live on forever.

I am so proud that The V Foundation for cancer research has raised millions and millions of dollars to fight this disease. I’m proud to be on a wonderful board that works so hard in this fight.

Understand that there is limited funding in pediatric cancer research, only four cents of every dollar goes to funding. It gives researchers a chance to find ways to beat this thing.

Great people like current V Foundation CEO Shane Jacobson, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, and Jimmy’s brother, Nick Valvano, Bob Lloyd, Susan Braun, ESPN president Jimmy Pittaro, former ESPN president George Boddenheimer and others have been so diligent in working to raise funds for this cause over the years.

People often ask me why I am so driven in the fight against cancer. I have five grandchildren and I cannot imagine how I would feel if they were ill.I have seen so many families affected by cancer and it simply sucks.

I have seen the way cancer affects the people around the cancer patients as well as those suffering from the disease. I have been working for the V Foundation trying to raise the money for cancer research to get rid of this horrible disease. It affects so many people. Cancer doesn’t judge you, it simply wreaks havoc on the families and friends of those victimized. That is why I will beg and plead for help till my last breath.

It is so emotional when you hear about someone else passing away from cancer. We must wipe it out, and we have done a lot already. There is so much more to be done in this fight.

I had such a blast with Jimmy over the years. We talked about basketball, about life, about our families. His loss had a profound influence on my life. That is why V Week and the efforts from ESPN stand out.

I work all year round to raise money through my Dickie V gala, with the goal of donating millions to the V Foundation for research grants. I have seen so many families affected by cancer and it stinks. My event is in Sarasota, Fla., at the Ritz-Carlton next May.

I am so proud of it because so many people work so hard on making it a success. What always makes me proud is the fact that all of the celebrities in attendance come down on their own dime. They are not paid a cent and they are happy to be part of the evening. There isn’t a dry eye in the house as we present our cancer survivor team, kids who have bravely fought hard.

It is so emotional as we bring in families that have been affected by cancer. There is not a dry eye in the house as they hear stories of people who have beaten the disease and are enjoying their lives. There are reflections on their fight and how they are big winners in the game of life.

Jimmy V’s legacy lives on in such a positive way. I know he is looking down from heaven, so proud of what has been done in his name. I know that he would be so proud of the Jimmy V Classic, caring so much about the roundball, baby! Another year of the Classic in the books as we raise valuable $$$.

We all miss you, love you and will always remember you, Jimmy! I know you will be looking down on these two exciting games.

This is the time of year where people help each other out. The life you help save could be that of a loved one.

The 18th annual Dick Vitale Gala, benefiting the V Foundation, will be held May 5, 2023, at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Florida. For more information visit dickvitaleonline.com.

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