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"Cancer can take away all my physical abilities.
It cannot touch my mind.  It cannot touch my heart.
It cannot touch my soul.  
And those three things are gonna carry on forever."

Jim Valvano, 1993 

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The Valvano Legacy

a reflection from Jim's brother and KFOV founder, Bob Valvano

Jim Valvano was an exceptional athlete. In high school, he made various Conference and County All-Star teams in football as a quarterback, basketball as a guard, and baseball as a shortstop, before going on to a terrific career playing basketball at Rutgers.

 

He was also 11 years older than I was, so his various athletic achievements were very impressive to me, his younger brother, and I tremendously enjoyed following his career.

 

When I was very small, we shared a bedroom, which must have thrilled him to no end, having a preschooler as a roommate.

 

But I don't remember him complaining.  I do remember him teaching me to sing SWINGING ON A STAR, when I was 5, and playing all those sports with me that I mentioned earlier.

 

Torturing me in all those sports might be more appropriate, however. He would never allow me to win, which wasn't all that hard given our age difference,  and then would taunt me with, "You've never beaten me in anything! Ever!!!".

 

It was standard big brother-little brother teasing, and I got so mad! Not mad enough to actually stop playing with him, mind you, but pretty mad nonetheless.

 

As we both became adults,  whenever he had some achievement or noteworthy experience,  he always included me in it, and I have gotten to do some incredible things, and meet some amazing people because of it.

I'm not embarrassed to say he was my idol, probably just as my oldest brother Nick was Jim's idol when he was young. All three of us were, and are, very close, so you can guess then how devastated and helpless I felt at Jim's cancer diagnosis when he was just 46 years old. Heartbreaking.

 

His speech at the first ESPY award show has been heard dozens of times by millions of people, and it has moved and inspired them in countless ways for over 30 years.

 

One of the messages from that speech was the need for increased research that might save people's lives who were afflicted by this terrible disease.

 

Inspired by this, we worked under the national V Foundation for 20 years. Meaning, all proceeds went to their headquarters in North Carolina and we were limited to strictly research-based initiatives.  We were proud of the money we were raising here in the Kentuckiana area, and wanted to contribute to the wonderful research happening right here in Louisville and Lexington. 

 

With the blessing of the V Foundation, we became our own 501c3 organization in July of 2018, thus allowing us to raise the money locally and keep it locally!

 

While the research did not save Jim's life, it saved his daughter's life in a fight with breast cancer, and it saved my life from Stage 4 leukemia. My particular cancer was put in remission with two drugs that were both created within the last 8 years of my diagnosis. Quite literally, it was research that saved my life...just as Jim suggested.

Still, over 600,000 people died from cancer in this country in 2022, so we still have more significant work to do, which is why KFOV wants to help, and hopes you will want to help us in that quest as well.  I'm walking proof that research works and that we CAN make a difference in the fight against cancer.

 

Jim was a dreamer. One of his dreams was to make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame. That dream came true in 2023. His dreams still coming true, some 30 years after his passing.

One of his last dreams was to beat cancer.  We are here to help make that dream come true. 

The Speech.

"For someone who seemed to know the end was near, Valvano was as optimistic as possible. He set a goal to ultimately eradicate cancer, a fight that rages to this day but has undoubtedly been influenced by his words."

Dan Treacy/The Sporting News
Revisiting Jim Valvano's iconic 'Don't ever give up' ESPYs speech on 30th anniversary
March 4,2023

The Book.

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Jim Valvano was a larger-than-life college basketball coach and broadcaster who died of cancer in 1993 at age 47 but who lives on through the V Foundation for cancer research. In this book, his brother Bob, also a basketball coach and broadcaster, tells the story of Jim's life through a collection of reminiscences from colleagues and friends who knew him. This scrapbook approach is woven into Bob's own personal narrative and covers both career highlights (NCAA tournament triumphs) and troubles (being fired from North Carolina State under a swirl of allegations). It also includes the speech he made at the ESPYs just two months before he died. What emerges is an affectionate portrait of a boisterous but flawed man who loved life, his family, and basketball and who fought a gallant battle against terminal cancer. 
John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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