Once a year, Dick Vitale’s perpetual crusade against children’s cancer segues from indefatigable to extravagant.
Cocktails, auctioned memorabilia and poignance will converge Friday evening at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota for the 18th annual Dick Vitale Gala, where all proceeds benefit pediatric-cancer research through the V Foundation.
The dignitaries slated to attend read like table assignments for the ESPYs. Those celebrities will mingle with nearly 20 youngsters (and their families) who have waged battles against the indiscriminate disease and are honored by the event host. Vitale, who never has made it through this event without breaking down, calls the kids his Dickie V All-Courageous team.
Here’s a by-the-numbers look at this year’s event, with a few sobering statistics involving the scourge that Vitale — himself a cancer survivor — has spent two decades battling.
3: World Series won (as a San Francisco Giant) by catcher Buster Posey, one of this year’s Vitale gala honorees
7: Grand Slam singles titles (three Wimbledons, four U.S. Opens) won by John McEnroe, another honoree (with his brother Patrick) at this year’s gala
10: Age of Ponte Vedra’s Ava Grace Jones, who passed away in January after battling a rare form of pediatric cancer. A $200,000 pediatric research grant in Ava Grace’s memory will be presented to her parents at the gala, according to Vitale.
84: Age Vitale turns on June 9
300: Approximate turnout for Vitale’s first fundraising gala in 2006. At that point, it was called an “Evening with the Stars” and was held at Vitale’s sprawling Lakewood Ranch home. Attendees included Billy Donovan, John Calipari, Urban Meyer, Ronde Barber and Hall of Fame hockey coach Scotty Bowman.
779: Division I coaching wins for Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes, who will receive the Dick Vitale Spirit Award
10,000: Amount of the check made out to the V Foundation and presented at the first Vitala gala by Timmy Berg, a 14-year-old cancer patient (and promising local tennis player) who raised the money himself.
15,270: Estimated number of children (ages 0-19) diagnosed with cancer in 2017, according to the V Foundation
Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene
Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
20,790: Career points for basketball Hall of Famer and 10-time NBA All-Star David Robinson, another of Friday’s honorees
11.1 million: Dollars raised for pediatric-cancer research at last year’s Dick Vitale Gala, according to the V Foundation. Vitale hopes to eclipse that mark this year.
55 million: Dollars raised for pediatric-cancer research at all Vitale galas to date, according to the V Foundation
19 million: Number of Americans projected to have had a cancer diagnosis by 2025, according to the V Foundation
• • •
Sign up for the Florida Football Fix weekly newsletter as Matt Baker offers his analysis of trends, news and hot topics around college football — and how they affect our state teams. Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.