VIP Flyaway to NYC

Posted on

DECEMBER 20, 2023

The real meaning of “V” in VIP

“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” - Jim Valvano

There are speeches by famous coaches, quotes by renowned authors, and moments in time that evoke powerful, personal reactions - goosebumps even. We all probably have one or two of these moments that immediately come to mind. To have experienced something so powerful that you’re moved to tears - that’s something you don’t forget.

Shady Rays VIP Steve Cox and son Stephen joined Shady Rays COO Dan Raterman and Strategic Communications Director Jenny Howard in NYC where together they helped make an Impact for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. This is what that Impact meant to them:

You’d just found out that you’d won the Shady Rays VIP Giveaway, what was your reaction? What happened next?

STEVE: It’s funny. I told my wife and my kids that I’d won and none of them believed me. I don’t win things like this, and especially not something as cool as taking a trip to New York City for the Jimmy V Classic basketball tournament. I entered the contest because of the prize, but definitely left with a lot more of a win than just that.

STEPHEN: When he told us that he’d won, my first reaction was, “School week or not, I’m coming with you!” I couldn’t miss the chance to see two awesome college basketball games in Madison Square Garden.

So, you get off the plane from Chicago, it’s Monday evening, what do you do first?

STEPHEN: Go out for pizza! For real, we were ready to soak up every minute of the trip. After checking into the hotel, we made our way to Times Square and then Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree, ice skating, and lights. It was my very first trip to New York City so I was trying to take it all in (and not get hit by a taxi cab or a bike rider like Jenny almost did).

After an ice skating adventure in Bryant Park the next morning, you meet up with Dan and Jenny for lunch and a shoot-around Tuesday afternoon. What did you all do at the shoot-around?

STEVE: Up until lunch, we still weren’t totally convinced that “a shoot-around on the court at Madison Square Garden” meant that WE were going to be the ones ‘shooting around.’ Maybe we were just going to watch the teams do their pre-game warmups or something. So, it was definitely surreal when Stephen and I were actually walking through the player tunnel and onto the court at Madison Square Garden.

STEPHEN: So many awesome basketball players have played on the court at MSG. I’m a huge basketball fan, both college and professional. Thinking that players like Michael Jordan played here, that’s just so cool. A group of guys and I played a game of half-court pick-up and that got me even more pumped up for this experience.

STEVE: When I saw the look on Stephen’s face and knew how much this meant to him, that was it for me. I knew this was going to be a memory that we have together forever. Such a special experience. While we were there, we got to meet Bob Valvano, Jimmy V’s brother, lots of the V Foundation leadership team including their CEO Shane Jacobson and hang out with Dan and Jenny. One who made a lot more baskets than the other during the shoot-around!

It’s tip-off and you’re seated at center court for the two games of the 2023 Jimmy V Men’s Classic. What was that like?

STEVE: The energy was electric. Not only are we watching some great matchups but during time-outs, at halftime, and in between games, ESPN did a great job of showcasing the incredible work of the V Foundation.

STEPHEN: They had a lot of content highlighting V Foundation researchers and how the foundation is so important in funding cancer research. The best was when they showed the whole Jimmy V ESPYs speech on the big screen. So inspiring.

STEVE: We loved being at the game as part of the Shady Rays team. Stephen tried his hardest to make it onto the jumbotron in his Shady Rays gear, but no luck there. Honestly, it meant a lot to us to not only be there with a brand we love, but to also see how much they’re giving back by supporting organizations like the V Foundation. They really are a brand that gives back.

STEPHEN: I totally agree! This experience was amazing all-around.

STEVE: The “V” now has two meanings to us. Not only were we VIPs, but it was all for the V Foundation for Cancer research. That’s the best.

It wasn’t the cool air of the New York City winter that gave us goosebumps, it was the collective impact of individuals, teams, and organizations who came together in support of Shady Rays Impact partner the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

“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. 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.”

- Jim Valvano on how to live life, during his ESPY speech

More about Shady Rays Impact and the V Foundation for Cancer Research