Sports and Wine Come Together at V Foundation Wine Celebration

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Guests bid at the live auction gala
Guests bid at the live auction gala

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

In 1993, basketball coach and ESPN commentator Jim Valvano gave a memorable speech at the ESPY Awards. At that time, Valvano was fighting cancer, a battle which he lost just eight weeks after giving one of the most inspirational speeches in sports history. He encourage people to laugh, think, and cry. “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is cry. You should have your emotions moved to tears. If you laugh, you think, and you cry…that’s a full day. That’s a heck of day.” This sentiment, to ‘laugh, think, and cry’ was the theme for the 18th annual V Foundation Wine Celebration, which took place in Napa over the weekend. The V Foundation for Cancer Research was created after Valvano’s death. It has funded mored than $150 million in grants that research cancer cures. The Wine Celebration, a three day event filled with dinners and discussions, is the foundation’s biggest benefit that brings together 500 members of the sports broadcasting, investment, medical, entertainment, and winemaking worlds.

Nickel and Nickel winery lit up for the gala
Nickel and Nickel winery lit up for the gala

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

The laugh, think, cry theme played an important role throughout out the weekend. “There was much laughter on Friday at the Rock The V Party, much thought on Saturday at the Answer for Cancer Research Symposium and many tears at the Saturday night gala at Nickel & Nickel winery,” explained Julie Allegro, the founder and chair of the V Foundation Wine Celebration. “It was one heck of a weekend.” The gala was hosted by CBS and HBO sports commentator Lesley Visser who started things off by explaining why she was there. “It comes down to one sentence,” she said. “Dollars equal research equal cure.” Joe Theismann, a football legend, sportscaster, and friend of Valvano, was the special guest speaker. Theismann thanked the doctors, “the real heroes who sacrifice so many years of their lives. They never stop. He called cancer “nasty” but believes it is defeat-able. “I believe in our lifetime we will see a cure for cancer. Not a treatment for cancer, but a cure for cancer.” Theismann was with Valvano at the 1993 ESPY Awards and to this day, he carries a copy of Valvano’s speech in his briefcase.

Guests at Rock the V
Guests at Rock the V

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

Auctioneer John Curley called the live auction, which included 32 spectacular lots with magnums of Alpha Omega, experiences with winemakers, like a fashion show at Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo’s home with designer Rubin Singer, and tickets to the Super Bowl. McCalls Catering served up a sensational meal that featured a savory turnip panna cotta, delectable quail confit, grilled dijon coated lamb chops and Merguez sausage with ratatouille, and a cheese course with local cheese. An after party featured a dessert lounge and tunes by Grammy Award-winning Eagles guitarist, Don Felder. $5.2 million were raised at the event which was attended by the following notable figures: George Bodenheimer, Nick Valvano, Susan Braun, Dr. Jonathan Simons, Dr. Robert Bast, Jr., Gary Newell, and Beth Nickel.

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