V And V
Basketball has held a prominent place in my world for as long as I can remember. I never donned a uniform, heard my name called as part of the starting lineup, or experienced the thrill of scoring a single basket. However, as a coach’s daughter, I had a front-row seat to the highs and lows associated with athletics. Thirty years have passed since I heard my Dad passionately discuss the upcoming season. And yet, the unbreakable bonds that he formed on and off the court give me a reason to celebrate.
When you are cutting down the nets, fans line up to be a part of your team. Harsh reality reveals the warriors that will stay beside you in the darkest of moments. After my Dad’s cancer diagnosis, he was fortunate to receive an abundance of support. Some days he would grow weary, and a phone call or visit from a friend would lift his spirits. The memory of him sitting at his desk in our home office while holding the phone receiver far away from his ear always makes me smile. I knew with certainty that Dick Vitale was on the other end of the phone delivering one of his weekly pep talks. Although he was not on speaker, his booming words of encouragement echoed through the room. I adored watching V and V on ESPN and witnessing the natural chemistry they shared. Their relationship transcended sports when my Dad asked Dick to help with the formation of The V Foundation. I was not privy to the private conversations they shared, but what was borne out of that partnership continues to change lives.
After my cancer diagnosis in 2005, a steady stream of notes and gifts were delivered from Dick. As one of the annual Jimmy V Basketball Classic announcers in December, he took a moment on camera to wish me well. There I stood in my living room, holding my bald head in my hands, with tears staining my cheeks. His words helped me realize I was not alone. Dick never misses an opportunity to share the work of The V Foundation. He is a valuable member of the Board of Directors, using his influence to raise money for life-saving research. For the past 17 years, his family has hosted The Dick Vitale Gala and donated millions for pediatric cancer research. His wife Lorraine and their entire family work tirelessly to provide hope to families that continue to be touched by cancer.
Anger took hold of me when my mom called to share the news of Dick’s cancer diagnosis. I talked to my Dad, prayed, and mailed a card of encouragement. Even the greatest of motivators will benefit from the knowledge that a united team stands behind them. Lucky for me, no athletic ability is required to achieve this victory. As a 16-year breast cancer survivor and the daughter of another boisterous Italian, I stand with Dick Vitale always.
Use the link below to send a message to Dick Vitale and learn how you can support cancer research.