Education

'Dickie V' surprises University of Iowa cancer patients

'He was really very kind'

Sports broadcaster Dick Vitale gets a tour of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City on Thursday, June 20, 2019. Vitale, who is in town for a fundraiser, is a national spokesperson for pediatric cancer research through the V Foundation for Cancer Research. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Sports broadcaster Dick Vitale gets a tour of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City on Thursday, June 20, 2019. Vitale, who is in town for a fundraiser, is a national spokesperson for pediatric cancer research through the V Foundation for Cancer Research. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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During a routine visit to a place that’s become all too familiar over the past two years, Dylan Schmidt on Thursday was thrown for a loop, and also a laugh, when legendary basketball commentator “Dickie V” showed up in his hospital room.

“Someone came in first and said there’s a special visitor here today and would it be OK if he came in and talked to you?” said Dylan’s mom, Julie Schmidt. “Then they said, ‘It’s Dick Vitale.’ And my son was like, ‘Really?’ He was pretty excited.”

Vitale, a former head coach and ESPN broadcaster, showed up with an autographed book and ball.

Dylan, 18, is an athlete and a sports fan — although he hasn’t played basketball since junior high. At age 15, he was diagnosed with stage I lymphoma and received care at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The family happened to be back Thursday during Vitale’s visit in promotion of the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

“He was really very kind,” said Julie Schmidt, of North Liberty.

Vitale was in town for the Eighth Annual 380 Companies, Billion Auto, Dick Vitale Golf and Gala at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort in Riverside.

Serving as a national spokesman for pediatric cancer research, Vitale made the visit in hopes of raising awareness — in addition to money — for pediatric cancer research.

“Celebrities can do whatever they want with their time and money, they don’t have to raise money for foundations,” Schmidt said. “They don’t have to use their status for that.”

Dylan Schmidt has made a full recovery and isn’t expected to have any more issues. He was at the hospital Thursday for a routine checkup.

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Money raised through the V Foundation goes toward cancer research at hospitals and institutions that apply, according to Janet Allen, a spokeswoman for the event.

“We do not have knowledge in advance of the event of the specific hospital and doctor that will receive it,” she said.

But the UI Center for Advancement, the fundraising arm for the University of Iowa, reported more giving to the UI Children’s Hospital this year than in at least the past three years.

To date, for the 2019 budget year that ends this month, 15,538 donors have given $24.7 million, according to center spokeswoman Dana Larson.

More than 16,090 donors gave $20.3 million to the Children’s Hospital in the past year, and 13,097 people gave $14.3 million in the 2017 budget year.

• Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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