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Charity organizers end Jimmy V celebrity golf event after 20 years

By Andrew Kenney
akenney@newsobserver.com

RALEIGH Twenty years after it began, the Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic is coming to an end.

Organizers hope to reach people through other events.

The classic began alongside The V Foundation for Cancer Research in 1993, the year of the death of Jim Valvano, the legendary N.C. State University basketball coach.

Both nonprofits have followed Valvano’s parting wish to improve care and find a cure for cancer. The golf weekend, often held at Lonnie Poole Golf Course or North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh, was one of the most visible parts of the fundraising effort.

The V Foundation will focus on other events, such as the Rock ’n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon and Racquets for Research, it announced Friday in a news release. By branching out of golf, the nonprofit hopes to reach beyond an audience primarily of golfers.

‘Shininess’ wore off

The V Foundation’s staff hopes that its role in new events – it will be the main beneficiary of the Rock ’n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon – will give a helpful boost as it enters its third decade.

“I think that (the golf classic) was the most popular, actually, when it just started,” said Sherrie Mazur, a foundation spokeswoman. “In those early years, it had so much support, not just in this community but nationwide. Throughout the years, as you continue to have an event, perhaps the newness and the shininess of that event tends to wear off.”

Mazur said the event has been successful, “wonderful and very well received” throughout. And the foundation, she said, is going strong.

In its 20 years, the golf weekend brought about 500,000 spectators in total, along with a host of celebrities, including Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm and Kevin Costner. It raised about $13.5 million for cancer research, according to the foundation.

The organization donates 100 percent of “direct cash donations and net proceeds of events” directly to cancer research and related programs, according to its website.

‘Don’t ever give up’

Mazur said the golf tournament “did a wonderful job of bringing together this community – just remembering Jim and his ‘Don’t give up, don’t ever give up’ spirit.”

The golf classic was run by a staff of three, separate from The V Foundation, Mazur said. It was unclear Friday whether those staff members would continue to work with the foundation, she said.

“We will forever be grateful for the work and dedication of Golf Classic Executive Director Frank McCann, the Board of Directors and thousands of Golf Classic volunteers who have been tirelessly devoted to finding a cure for cancer,” Valvano’s brother, Nick Valvano, the foundation’s president emeritus, said in a written release.

The V Foundation is seeking runners to join its charitable team in the Rock ’n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon on April 13. It’s accepting applications at run4v.org.

Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC
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