Vitale fundraiser hopes to raise $2 million in a night

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Posted: Friday, May 16, 2014 10:37 pm

SARASOTA, FLA  Nine hundred people each paid a thousand dollars a plate to see national sports stars and help raise lots of money for pediatric cancer research.

The annual "V Foundation" gala--in honor of the late North Carolina State Coach Jimmy Valvano--was held at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota for the 9th straight year.

Even though he talks for a living, Dick Vitale couldn't even speak while describing a letter he was sent, a letter a father wrote to his daughter in heaven.

"It really catches you after awhile, when you start to talk to parents who lose their children, I mean we had three youngsters with us last year at our gala, not with us anymore. It just tears your heart," he said.

And this year, a new crop of young faces, all at various stages of treatment or recovery.  But mixed in with all the sadness and tears are positive stories like 16 year old Erin of Sarasota.

Erin Kisielewski and her father can't say enough about the man who's raising millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research.

"Words can't describe it--the work he's doing, as a father, this gives us hope," Michael Kisielewski said.

The gala also honored three major college coaches, each of whom raved about the work of Dick Vitale:

I can't tell you how much we appreciate the leadership that Dick has shown in terms of effecting  young people, effecting research and cancer," said Nick Saban, head football coach of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.

"Powerful event, powerful night, and I think there's no way they'll out do last year, and they do but it's a pleasure to be here and an honor to be here," said Michael Brey, head basketball coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

"It's an absolute privledge to be able to sit here and represent the V foundation and Dick and Lorraine Vitale tonight," said Tom Crean, head basketball coach for the Indiana Hoosiers.

But Vitale won't take a bow, he says he won't quit until pediatric cancer is wiped out.

"No child should be going through chemo and radiation, they should be out playing," Vitale said.

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