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Celebrities Hit the Greens to Fight Cancer

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CARY — Some of the biggest names in the sports and entertainment industry were in the Triangle this weekend hitting the links for charity at the sixth annualJimmy V Celebrity Golf Classicat Prestonwood Country Club.

Organizers estimated a crowd of about 35,000 people as celebrities and spectators teamed together to help beat cancer.

Former basketball star Michael Jordan made five-year old Nicholas Cicero's day when he took time out to sign his basketball.

"He took it away and told me to try to get it," said Nicholas.

Jordan was the star attraction at the celebrity tournament, but soccer champion Mia Hamm also drew an enthusiastic crowd.

"She's just wonderful," said one fan. "She's an inspiration because of her athleticism as a woman."

While Hamm got swamped by autograph seekers, she talked about her reasons for being at the classic.

"The more money we can raise, the more research we can do, and hopefully we can get this thing," Hamm said.

One of Valvano's dreams is about to become a reality. The Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic raised nearly $3.5 million over the last six years for the The V Foundation. Some of that money will go to help fund The Jim Valvano Day Hospital over at Duke University for cancer patients.

"Mia Hamm's here and Michael Jordan came back, and it does my heart so much good," said Pam Valvano, Jim's widow, who also serves on The V Foundation Board of Directors. "And I know there's somebody looking down from heaven and really really proud of everybody that's here."

Jim Valvano was 346-212 in 19 seasons as a head basketball coach in the NCAA. Valvano guided North Carolina State University in eight NCAA tournaments, and a National Championship in 1983. Valvano died April 28, 1993 after a 10-month battle with bone cancer.