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May 16, 2014, Sarasota, FL (ISN) – Celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment crowded the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota tonight for the Ninth Annual Dick Vitale Gala to raise money in the fight against pediatric cancer through The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, University of Notre Dame head men’s basketball coach Mike Brey and Indiana University head men’s basketball coach Tom Crean were honored at the event.  The 2014 Gala is expected to raise more than $2 million for pediatric cancer research, with the final amount to be announced at a later date.

“I am in awe of the response we are receiving about our desire to help kids battling cancer.  Jimmy V would be so proud,” said Dick Vitale, ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster.  “We raised a record $2 million this year, surpassing our previous record of raising $1.7 million in 2012.”

The sold-out event hosted more than 850 people and featured more than 70 celebrities at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota.  Prominent NCAA basketball coaches in attendance included Tom Izzo (Michigan State), John Calipari (Kentucky), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Jim Larrañaga (Miami), Steve Alford (UCLA), Fran McCaffery (Iowa), and Leonard Hamilton (Florida State). 

Additional sports celebrities included Florida State’s 2014 BCS National Championship winning head coach Jimbo Fisher, Nebraska’s head football coach Bo Pelini, tennis legend Nick Bollettieri, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith.  The event was hosted by ESPN’s John Saunders.  Other celebrities in attendance included Audrey Landers of the long-running soap opera series Dallas, her sister Judy Landers of The Love Boat, and Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle.  This year’s event included a “Celebrity Meet & Greet Private Party” and included after-party entertainment featuring the Four Tops, an American vocal quartet. 

“Dick and Lorraine Vitale have such extraordinary passion and commitment to help children with cancer and their families,” said Susan Braun, CEO of The V Foundation.  “Funding outstanding pediatric research takes us closer to cures every single day.   The Vitales and everyone who attends the Gala and supports this cause is a part of finding answers that will save the lives of children.”

Since the event’s inception in 2006, the Gala has raised more than $10 million for pediatric cancer research.  Grants awarded from this year’s Gala will include $250,000 in memory of Lacey Holsworth and $250,000 in memory of Eddie Livingston.  The V Foundation encourages supporters to continue donating in loving memory of these two brave children who deeply touched the community with their courage and strength. 

To donate to the Lacey Holsworth Memorial, please visit www.jimmyv.org/lacey.  To donate to the Eddie Livingston Memorial, please visit www.jimmyv.org/eddie.   For more information about The V Foundation for Cancer Research, please visit www.jimmyv.org or call 1-800-JimmyV.

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