What an AMAZING weekend!!!! It started Friday morning with Mike and Mike (ESPN Radio) doing their radio show from the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota to promote the V Gala later that evening. The Gala was completely sold out with over 850 in attendance. The honorees, Tom Izzo and Tony Dungy, could not have been more gracious all weekend.
They happily took photos and signed autographs for fans, did interviews with the media, and most importantly, helped raise over $1.2 million for pediatric cancer research. Magic Johnson flew in to introduce Tom Izzo and Colts head coach, Jim Caldwell, introduced Tony Dungy.
The evening also featured two very emotional tributes. One to Mark Herzlich, a Boston College football player who was hit with cancer in his leg and told he would never walk again. Twelve months after his diagnosis, Mark is cancer free and planning on playing in Boston College's opening day game, Sept. 4, 2010. Mark addressed the crowd and gave one of the night's most memorable speeches. The other tribute was for Jake Olsen, a 12 year old boy from California, who lost his eye to cancer when he was 18 months old and then just recently was told he had to have his other eye removed because the cancer had come back. Jake is now blind and a true HERO!!! He also addressed the crowd at the Gala and wowed everyone with his strength, courage, and incredible attitude.
Mark and Jake represent everything our weekend is all about. They are the reason I am fighting so hard to find a cure for this dreaded disease - no person, especially a child, should endure what they have had to. Their positive attitudes are infectious and I was so honored and proud to have them at my event. The room that evening was filled with stars and celebrities - Kenny Chesney, Roy Williams, Gary Williams, Nick Bollettieri, Tommy Lasorda, John Calipari, Steve Mariucci, Mike Alstott, and a host of others. I can't thank everyone enough for their continued support of the V Gala and the V Foundation. Raising over $1.2 million in one night is a task that requires the help of so many people and I can't thank everyone enough!!!!
CLICK HERE to view photos from the Gala
Saturday morning there was a golf outing at the Ritz Carlton. Jake Olsen played all 18 holes with the assistance of his father! It was a beautiful afternoon for all the golfers. Later that day, my wife and I had about 200 people over our home for a celebration to cap off the tremendous success of the gala. Lou Holtz was there, along with Kenny Chesney, Jim Caldwell, Tom Izzo, and Nick Bollettieri. It was a terrific way to end a REMARKABLE weekend!!!
CLICK HERE to view photos from the party at our home