ESPN’s 14th consecutive V Week for Cancer Research begins on “Giving Tuesday,” Dec.1, and runs through Dec. 12. Throughout the week, ESPN will drive awareness and donations for the V Foundation for Cancer Research across ESPN platforms and all net proceeds will go directly to cancer research and related programs. ESPN has helped raise more than $127M since the V Foundation’s inception in 1993.
This year’s V Week will put a focus on the health inequities that exist in cancer, from the lack of minority representation in clinical trials to how cancer affects racial populations differently. The Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund, which was established by ESPN and the V Foundation in honor of famed ESPN television personality Stuart Scott, will be showcased throughout the week. The Fund, established in 2015 after Scott’s passing from cancer, encourages cutting-edge research for African Americans, Hispanics and other minority populations suffering from cancer. The groundbreaking cancer research initiative funds outstanding minority researchers and also research that explores the biology behind why some cancers are more likely to occur, more aggressive or harder to treat in some minority populations. Thirty grants totaling $10.5 million have been awarded at 23 cancer centers since the fund’s inception in 2015.
“Funding for cancer research has been down across the board this year due to the wide range of needs from the pandemic, yet it remains one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “ESPN remains committed to our long-standing tradition of raising funds for cancer research, especially for those who are disproportionately affected through the Stuart Scott Fund.”
Equity in health programming includes:
- Collaboration with the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity — For the first time, ESPN, together with the V Foundation and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity will launch a new initiative to honor Stuart Scott, a beloved Alpha Brother. The initiative will launch on Dec. 4, the anniversary Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity’s founding. The announcement will take place on ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin Show, and the month-long awareness and fundraising campaign aims to diminish cancer disparities among minorities.
- Remembering Stuart Scott — Starting on Dec. 4 and throughout the weekend, ESPN will feature content showcasing Stuart’s love of life and perseverance through his fight with cancer and his consistent message to “never give up.” A special, limited edition Stuart Scott Boo-yah t-shirt will go on sale and all net proceeds of sales will benefit the V Foundation.
- Fight Like Hell Night — UFC is dedicating its UFC Fight Night on December 5 to the Stuart Scott Fund. Scott had a strong connection to mixed martial arts and even trained during his treatments. UFC will make a $100,000 contribution to life-saving research funded through the Stuart Scott Fund. UFC will encourage fans to support the campaign throughout December. Fights will air on ESPN2 and ESPN+ at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. EST. Viewers can support the campaign by visiting org/ufc .
- Equity in Health Presented by The Undefeated, available now via com/equityinhealth. This insightful discussion features insights from the Washington Football Team President Jason Wright, actor on ABC’s The Good Doctor Hill Harper, V Scholar Dr. Francine Garrett-Bakelman and V Foundation Board Member and former NCAA basketball player Dereck Whittenburg. The group discusses the importance of disparities in cancer research, lack of clinical trial participation in minority communities, personal stories, and how to promote healthy practices and early cancer detection in minority communities.
Additional V Week programming will include:
- Jim Valvano’s ESPYS Speech Roadblock — Just once a year, nearly all of ESPN platforms pause regularly scheduled programming and run a “roadblock” in support of the V Foundation. On Wed., Dec. 9, at 7 p.m., the 15-minute roadblock will begin with an introduction from ESPN personalities Sage Steele and Holly Rowe about the need for cancer research support now more than ever, and will highlight former N.C. State coach-turned ESPN commentator Jim Valvano’s legendary 1993 “Don’t Give Up” ESPYS speech. It will be offered simultaneously on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, Classic, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN and Longhorn Network.
Across all ESPN networks, the BottomLine scroll will encourage viewers to join ESPN and the V Foundation to achieve Victory Over Cancer® by visiting v.org/donate.
- The “One” Creative Campaign — The Emmy-award winning campaign creative features real stories of cancer patients that are tied together by the voice and music of recording artist, Andy Grammer, who lost his mother to breast cancer. The “One” concept, which can be used to describe the deeply personal and universal nature of the cancer experience, was born from Jim Valvano’s speech; taken from the line “One last thing…” which led to the inspirational expression of his defiant stance against cancer.
- The Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona Extra will begin with the Men’s Classics on Wed., Dec. 2, followed by the Women’s Classics on Dec. 3 and 4, all airing live on ESPN.
- Men’s Classic: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 West Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN) and No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 5 Illinois (10 p.m., ESPN). College GameDay Covered by State Farm with Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, LaPhonso Ellis and Seth Greenberg will air live between games, highlighted by Jim Valvano’s legendary speech.
- Women’s Classic: No. 8 NC State at No. 1 South Carolina on Thursday, Dec. 3 (7 p.m., ESPN2) and No. 20 DePaul vs. No. 5 Louisville on Friday, Dec. 4 (6:30 p.m., ESPN)
- On the ABC drama A Million Little Things, James Roday Rodriguez and Allison Miller’s fictional characters Gary and Maggie didn’t really have to battle cancer, but in real life, cancer is a disease that does not discriminate. Over 1.8 million Americans of every age, race and gender, will be diagnosed with cancer this year. As part of V Week, James and Allison are showing their support of the V Foundation for Cancer Research in a PSA that will follow the December 3rd episode on ABC.
Additional programming highlighting the importance of cancer research will air during the week, including E60 Twice the Fight on Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. This E60 features Andy Hoffman and his family, who received national attention back in 2013 when his 6-year-old son Jack, a pediatric brain cancer patient, scored a 69-yard touchdown in a Nebraska spring football game. In the years that followed, Andy made it his life’s mission to help his son beat this disease and raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Jack, now 15, is healthy enough to pursue his dreams of playing high school football. But, in an awful twist of fate, Andy, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer this past summer. Now, with limited time left, Andy is still fighting to raise awareness for pediatric brain cancer and support his son during his freshman season of football.
About ESPN Corporate Citizenship
ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplift the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use power of sport to positively address society’s needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to www.espn.com/citizenship.
About the V Foundation for Cancer Research
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State University basketball coach and ESPN commentator. The V Foundation has funded more than $250 million in game-changing cancer research grants nationwide through a competitive process strictly supervised by a world-class Scientific Advisory Committee. Because the V Foundation has an endowment to cover administrative expenses, 100% of direct donations is awarded to cancer research and programs. The V team is committed to accelerating Victory Over Cancer®. To learn more, visit v.org.
Contact: Olivia Wilson at (904) 303-3538; [email protected]; @livcwilson