NAPA VALLEY, CA, AUGUST 10, 2015 – The V Foundation for Cancer Research’s annual fundraiser, The V Wine Celebration, garnered more than $10.6 million over the weekend of August 6-9 for cancer research. With an unprecedented $3 million matching grant from an anonymous donor, the total included more than $7.8 million in “fund-a-need” donations to support pediatric brain cancer research.
“There are moments in your life where you feel like everything you have done up until then leads to this one single moment,” said Julie Allegro, founder and co-chair of The V Wine Celebration. “Tonight was one of those nights. The feeling in that room – the excitement, the tears, the energy – we were all one, for a brief moment. And together, we exceeded our wildest goals and raised over $10 million, and will make a dent in finding a cure to cancer.”
This year’s V Wine Celebration gala dinner at Nickel & Nickel winery welcomed back Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski to rouse the crowd in the same way he has inspired and motivated players during his basketball coaching career. He suggested renaming The V Wine Celebration “The Winning Foundation” “because that’s what The V Foundation has done. It’s found cures. Jimmy (Valvano) was all about winning. That’s why this foundation was formed. Instead of being in his hospital room and saying, ‘I’m going to die,’ he said, ‘I’m going to win.’ “
“Everybody in this room is part of the team tonight,” he added. “Everybody will do something to help.”
The most compelling component of the auction was the fund-a-need, with more than half the guests raising their paddles to pledge donations to support research into pediatric brain cancer, the leading cause of death by disease in children.
The crowd was spurred on by the recorded words of Jimmy Valvano, who died in 1993, the year he and ESPN established the foundation named after him. “…We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love.” The speech was repeated twice more during the evening, recited by local vintners and celebrities and then by children with pediatric brain cancer.
Another fundraising highlight was the 32-lot live auction. Auctioneers Ursula Hermacinski and John Curley kept the bidding lively, with guests purchasing such experiences that included a high seas adventure aboard the Duncan family’s private 122-foot SOC (Silver Oak Cellars) yacht; weeklong stays in stunning vacation villas around the world; and premier sporting events with VIP access, such as the 50th anniversary Super Bowl, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with Bentley Motors and a golfing experience with seven-time LPGA Champion Cristie Kerr, who was on hand to encourage guests to bid up the lot. Other lots included an ultimate culinary exploration in New Orleans with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and PRIDE Mountain Vineyards, and a trip to Montana including a dinner with rock star Huey Lewis, who performed a the gala dinner.
The V Foundation’s signature fundraising event attracted attendees from all over the U.S. to the Napa Valley for a gala weekend of events and activities with a serious underlying purpose — to benefit the foundation’s efforts to support significant cancer research at major institutions and research centers nationwide. Over the last 16 years, the event has raised more than $58 million, enabling the foundation to provide 550 cancer research grants nationwide. Bay Area recipients have included the Martin O’Neil Cancer Center at St. Helena Hospital, Napa’s Queen of the Valley Medical Center, Stanford University School of Medicine and UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The gala dinner and live auction at Nickel & Nickel were the culmination of the weekend’s activities, which kicked off Thursday, August 6 with several intimate winery dinners. Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo hosted diners at Raymond Vineyards while Andrea and Bill Phelps hosted diners at Joseph Phelps Vineyards. The winemaking team at Silver Oak welcomed another group to Silver Oak Cellars, and Jim Borsack and Duffy Keys hosted diners at B Cellars. Also on Thursday, Gail and Carmen Policy hosted members of The V Foundation Giving Club at the Humanitarian and Founders Dinner at Casa Piena Winery. Guests at all the dinners were then invited to gather at “Club Red,” the popular after-party hosted by Boisset and Gallo at Raymond Vineyards.
On Friday, members of the Giving Club attended the Presidents Club & Vintner Grant Honoree Luncheon sponsored by Bentley Motors and hosted by Kathryn and Craig Hall at HALL Winery.
The 2015 Vintner Grant honorees, Rick Jones of Jones Family Vineyard and his wife Elaine, were recognized for their continued support of The V Foundation. In her remarks, Elaine Jones, a cancer survivor, thanked Jimmy V, “who started it all.”
“I don’t begin a day without saying that I will not give up,” she said.
Through the Vintner’s Grant, the honorees are able to designate an area of focus; The V Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee is then charged with identifying the best research in that area for funding. The Joneses directed this year’s research funds toward pancreatic cancer. The 2015 Vintner Grant will be awarded to Cullen Taniguchi, a researcher at MD Anderson Cancer Center studying unique ways to use a targeted pathway to reduce the often severe GI toxicity that can accompany chemotherapy and radiation treatments for patients with pancreatic cancer. With a generous matching grant from Howard Young, a ten-year pancreatic cancer survivor and supporter of The V Foundation, the two-year research project will be extended to three years.
Friday evening’s popular “Let’s Get it Started” party at The Pavilion at The Vintage Estates in Yountville featured offerings from Napa Valley’s renowned restaurateurs and preeminent vintners, as well as a custom barrel auction where guests had the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind cases of custom-created wine blends from celebrated winemakers. The evening ended with guests dancing to Project M.
Saturday morning, the foundation presented a free, public cancer research symposium, where prominent physicians and research scientists from around the nation gathered to present the most current advances and discoveries in clinical applications, new diagnostics and alternative treatments for cancer.
Dr. Margaret Tempero, director, UCSF Pancreas Center; professor of medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, UCSF, and Rombauer Family distinguished professor in pancreas cancer clinical and translational science, gave an overview of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Sabine Mueller, assistant professor, department of neurology and pediatric oncology, UCSF, provided an update on her research on pediatric cancer research. Additionally, V Scholar recipient Dr. Christina Curtis, assistant professor of medicine (oncology) and of genetics and co-director, Molecular Tumor Board, Stanford Cancer Institute, discussed her V Foundation-funded clinical trial. The standing room-only crowd of several hundred then had the rare opportunity to pose questions to these leading researchers during a lively Q&A session. For more information about the 2015 event, call 707-963-0611 or visit www.winecelebration.org. The 18th anniversary V Foundation Wine Celebration will be held August 4-7, 2016.
ABOUT THE V FOUNDATION FOR CANCER RESEARCH
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jimmy Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, the foundation has funded more than $130 million in cancer research grants nationwide. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from events directly support the work of The V Foundation. Due to generous donors, the foundation has an endowment that covers administrative expenses. The foundation awards peer-reviewed grants through a competitive awards process vetted by a Scientific Advisory Committee. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.jimmyv.org.
ABOUT THE V WINE CELEBRATION
The V Wine Celebration is a world-class wine event and auction benefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Set in Napa Valley, the heart of California Wine Country, this annual event brings together 500 prominent members of the sports broadcasting, entertainment, media, lifestyle, technology, investment, medical and winemaking worlds to raise money to fund vital research in the fight against all types of cancer. To date, the V Wine Celebration has helped fund 550 research programs at medical and research facilities across the country. Dedicated to giving back to the generous Napa Valley and surrounding communities that have so enthusiastically embraced it, the foundation has included many Bay Area institutions among its grantees, including St. Helena Hospital, Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, Stanford University and UC San Francisco. Co-founded by Julie Allegro and Robert Lloyd, The V Wine Celebration has grown to be to one of the top-rated charitable auctions in the country.
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CONTACT: Holly Krassner Dawson