Tuesday night marked the end of ESPN’s Jimmy V Week, a weeklong cancer awareness initiative that is promoted across the network’s many platforms. The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has raised more than $115 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide.
As a college basketball fan and as someone who watches ESPN frequently, Jimmy V week serves as an annual reminder for not only the importance of cancer research but also for the importance of Jim Valvano’s message. At the inaugural ESPY Awards in 1993, less than a year after being diagnosed with metastasized bone cancer, Valvano received the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award , and he made an incredibly memorable and emotional acceptance speech. It is definitely worth watching:
I re-watch this speech around this time every year, and it always inspires me and helps me keep things in perspective. Jim Valvano knew that he didn’t have much time left to live, and wanted to make sure that others approach life the same way he did:
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
Valvano’s animated personality and inner-Italian were also on full display. During his speech the teleprompter showed that he had 30 seconds left, to which Valvano responded, “They got that screen up there flashing 30 seconds, like I care about that screen. I got tumors all over my body and I’m worried about some guy in the back going 30 seconds.”
He concluded the speech with an emotional, teary-eyed statement:
“Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.”
Jim Valvano died just two months after making this legendary speech, but his spirit has indeed lived on forever.
During this stressful time with finals just around the corner and plenty of other work piling up, just remember to keep things in perspective and appreciate the good things. It’s best for our health, and it’s what Jimmy would have wanted. I hope you found Jimmy’s message as inspirational as I did.