Many ESPN figures are involved with a lot of charitable work, from direct V Foundation events to individual donation efforts. One of the later is ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale’s latest fundraiser for the V Foundation, the 2021 Dick Vitale Gala at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Florida on May 7. That event, part of Vitale’s long-running work on raising money for pediatric cancer research, will feature four notable honorees: Florida football coach Dan Mullen, Auburn men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl, former Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw, and Vitale’s ESPN colleague Scott Van Pelt. Earlier this week, Van Pelt gave an interesting interview to Ryan Kohn of The Sarasota Observer about why he’s taking part in this, saying that his connection with young Purdue fan Tyler Trent (who passed away at 20 in January 2019 after a battle with bone cancer) made an impression on on him:
“[Trent] left a mark on me. I feel such pain for that family. Whatever he got from me by being on the show, you get so much more back just by seeing the fight the young man had.”
Van Pelt said he has a drawing that a fan made of Van Pelt and Trent hanging in his house. He looks at it every day, and it makes him think about Trent, and why they met, and what he can do to help those who need it.
Van Pelt also had some notable comments to Kohn on the overall value of these charity events.
“I’m the auctioneer for the Tim Tebow Foundation’s event. I’ve been in these rooms where people want to help. When a room gets energized with sharing wealth, it’s a life-affirming thing. They get competitive with each other. Six figures becomes seven. You feel like you’re helping. And this event in particular, raising money for pediatric cancer research, what else is there that we are supposed to do in this life? If you’re capable of helping, you should leave this [world] better than it was when you arrived.”
It’s certainly cool to see Van Pelt, and these other notable sports world figures, taking time to travel to Florida for this to raise some funds for children’s cancer research. And it’s interesting to hear Van Pelt talk about how his connection with Trent still resonates for him, and how that’s inspiring him to continue trying to leave this world a better place.