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Thousands "Keep Dream Alive" at Jimmy V Classic

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CARY — Celebrities. Star athletes. Thousands of spectators. All were here in the Triangle today for one reason: to raise money for cancer research to keep Jim Valvano's dream alive.

The Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic honors the memory of the late NCSU basketball coach Jim Valvano.

The "V" Foundation got a lot of help in keeping that dream alive. Approximately 30,000 people -- a record number -- attended the fifth annual celebrity golf classic. But at Prestonwood Country Club today, autograph-hunting and celebrity-watching were as popular as golf.

"I never thought we'd ever get to see him, but, so I was really happy when he came out," said one excited young fan about basketball star -- and Wilmington, NC native -- Michael Jordan.

To catch a glimpse of Michael Jordan at Prestonwood, you only had to look for the biggest crowd on the golf course.

Jordan wasn't signing autographs today, but some fans held out hope, and tried to catch his attention anyway.

Some celebrities, such as Joe Piscopo, proved to be better performers than golfers. With cameras rolling, Piscopo saved himself a couple of strokes on one hole that challenged him by impishly dropping the ball right next to the hole.

Fans did get many of the autographs they came for. Former NC State and Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz gave his John Hancock to everyone who asked for it, and reminded everyone why they're really here.

"There's a lot of similarities with N.C. State, Jimmy Valvano and myself, plus my wife has throat cancer stage four, and you understand how difficult it is to comprehend or cope with this -- so it's my pleasure to be here," Holtz said.

Holtz says hundreds of volunteers and thousands of fans are the real heroes. The tournaments give every fan a role in battling cancer.

"People wouldn't normally just come out and put money out, but this encourages them and gives them a reason, and the celebrities who donate their time, it gives them a reason," one fan acknowledged.

Many fans got to Prestonwood by paying $5 each to hop a shuttle from Carter-Finley stadium.


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