Czar’s Got Heart: 2011 Jimmy V New Jersey Dinner

A couple weeks ago I attended the inaugural Jimmy V New Jersey Dinner at The Brownstone in Paterson, New Jersey. Hosted by ESPN’s Bob Ley, we paid tribute to North Jersey native Dick Vitale – a longtime champion of Jim Valvano’s quest to eradicate cancer. Almost 400 people participated in the fundraiser, including special guest Notre Dame Basketball Coach Mike Brey.

Towards the end of the dinner Dick got up to talk about why he’s been so relentless in his pursuit of a cure for cancer. As always Dick delivered an impassioned and moving speech, explaining that he made a promise to his close friend Jimmy Valvano to continue to fight for cancer research after Jimmy’s death.

This was a great opportunity to honor an exceptional person who has dedicated an incredible amount of time, effort and work to help raise money throughout the country for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. It was a terrific evening, and I enjoyed seeing a lot of old friends and familiar faces from the North Jersey area among those who helped researchers get one step closer to finding a cure by coming out to support Dick and the V Foundation. Hopefully next year’s dinner will be even bigger and better.

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Photos courtesy of Richard Formica via The V Foundation for Cancer Research

Please CLICK HERE if you would like to make an online donation. The V Foundation awards 100% of all donations directly to cancer research and related programs and has awarded nearly $80 million to more than 100 facilities nationwide.

On the Road with Mike: Fifth Annual Dick Vitale Gala

Nick Bollettieri and Mike Fratello attend the Dick Vitale Gala in Sarasota, Florida in 2008.

I’m in Sarasota, Florida for the Fifth Annual Dick Vitale Gala to benefit The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Every year they recognize two people for their outstanding achievements. This year’s honorees are former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo.

A number of coaching greats and sports personalities will be in attendance tonight including Magic Johnson, John Calipari, Nick Bollettieri, David Brooks, Tom Green, Mike Greenberg, Seth Greenberg, Bob Huggins, Tommy Lasorda, Steve Mariucci and Bruce Pearl.

I’ve attended the last couple years and witnessed some very special and moving moments. One time they spontaneously auctioned off four front row seats to the upcoming Duke-Carolina game. In 2008 Vitale pledged the use of his home for a 50-person catered dinner and he asked for $100,000. Pat Riley raised his hand, but told Vitale to forget about hosting the dinner. Instead, they’d go eat at a restaurant. Inspiring acts of generosity like that have transpired over the years.

2009 Dick Vitale Gala to benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

I’m looking forward to spending a night of high energy with Dickie V who is the greatest at helping raise money to continue cancer research. His goal is to raise $1,000,000 for a pediatric research grant and local hospitals. If you would like to make a donation, please call 1-800-4-JIMMYV.

Dick Vitale with Mike Fratello at a Friends of Fratello Foundation fundraising dinner circa 1984.