Vitale hoping to raise $2 million at annual gala

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SARASOTA, Fla. – It’s that time of year when Sarasota becomes the hottest ticket in the country. That's because Dick Vitale is again raising money for cancer, and he wants to top last year’s record-breaking gala.

This is the 9th go-round for the gala Vitale hosts every year to raise money and awareness to find a cure for children with cancer, all in the memory of his close friend Jim Valvano. “That disease will bring you to your knees, and I will go to my last breath begging and pleading for money to cure cancer. Over $10 million we've raised. I'm hoping to break a record don. I'm hoping to break the hallowed $2 million mark."

The annual gala has grown from a big party at his house to what has become this annual gala, and the hottest ticket of the year for sports celebrities. "We will have 74 sports personalities. The Ritz Carlton will be rocking like you wouldn't believe. And then we will have a post-gala concert with The Four Tops."

The party takes place Friday, May 16th at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota, and this year’s honorees are Alabama’s 2-time national champion coach Nick Saban, Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey, and Indiana head basketball coach Tom Crean.

We asked Dick how he chooses his yearly honorees. "Part of being a member is because they have donated $50,000. They have done that and they have also done a good job in their careers, and helping people. Nick Saban is as generous a person away from the field as he is a good coach on it."

People interested in donating can call 941-350-0580, or go to www.dickvitaleonline.com. There are still tickets left for the car being raffled off, money that also goes to finding a cure. "Only about 100 left out of 1500. If somebody wants a raffle ticket for a new Mercedes, 2014, it's a $100 donation."