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Leaving a Legacy

Mar 04, 2014 09:10AM ● Published by Anonymous

Bill (third from left) stands on the court at Ohio State University with 2011 Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year, Jared Sullinger.

By Linden Wilson

Southlake’s Bill Webb Welcomes Basketball’s Elite

For the men of college basketball, March Madness means a chance to compete against the fiercest competitors in the hopes of making it all the way to the end of the NCAA tournament. For Bill Webb, it means a chance to plan an event studded with stars from the college basketball world in the name of raising money for cancer research.

On April 5 and 7, the remaining four teams in the tournament will face off at AT&T Stadium (this year marks just the second time in the Final Four’s 75-year history that Dallas has hosted the event), but the real party occurs on April 3. With the historic Gilley’s venue as its backdrop, the first annual Slam Dunk Cancer event will draw famous faces like ESPN’s Dick Vitale and singer Darius Rucker, plus thousands of others eager to support the V Foundation — named for legendary basketball coach, Jimmy Valvano, who passed away from bone cancer. Behind the scenes of it all: Bill Webb.

Before he was organizing high-profile charity events, Bill was working in private equity. A Fort Worth resident until 1996, he and his wife, Jill, then moved to Austin so Bill could run the trade association for the transportation industry. He was also heavily involved in then-Governor George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and former Governor Rick Perry’s campaign. Ten years to the day after moving to the capital city, Bill and Jill — plus their three young sons — relocated back to the DFW area.

“I enjoyed my time in Austin and learned a lot, but I’d just had enough of politics,” Bill says. “We decided to move to Southlake because my wife’s sister lived there, we loved the schools, and we felt like it was going to be a great place to raise a family.”

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Five years ago, while still working as an operating partner of a New York-based private equity firm, Bill created a charitable foundation within his portfolio. He was able to draw on the experiences he had as a past chairman of both a national foundation and statewide foundation. Subsequently, he received a call from a connection in Oklahoma who had started a foundation but hadn’t done anything with it.

“He asked if I could help him form some kind of strategy,” Bill recalls. “So I did. The next year, he came back to me said, ‘Why don’t you run it for the next five years or so?’ All of a sudden, I had a business.”

Bill realized his background, the connections he’d made throughout his career and his passion for helping others were the key ingredients to forming his own company. He began searching for additional foundations that had already been started but weren’t performing to their potential while simultaneously reaching out to folks he knew who had expressed an interest in having their own foundation. Soon thereafter, Bill left the private equity world to establish Legacy Foundation and Event Management.

“I wanted to travel less and see my kids grow up,” Bill explains. “I was very fortunate to be able to find a business like this one, where I can make a reasonable living, give back and most importantly, do something that I love to do. I’m at an age now where I want to get up every day and work on something I want to be working on. It’s not easy to turn your passion into a way to make a living.”

Legacy primarily focuses on providing management, fundraising and support for foundations for professional athletes, professional and collegiate coaches, high-wealth individuals and corporations. Bill counts Dallas Cowboys star, Brandon Carr, and TCU baseball coach, Jim Schlossnagle’s RBI Foundation as a few of his local high-profile clients. Yet one of his greatest accomplishments was starting the Access Sports nonprofit foundation, which established the College Basketball Awards and the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year award to honor rising college basketball stars and humanitarians. Past freshman awards have gone to Ohio State University’s Jared Sullinger and the University of Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, while past humanitarian awards have honored Dick Vitale; Duke University head coach, Mike Krzyzewski; and Tom Izzo, head coach for Michigan State University.

About 16 months ago, Bill began tossing around ideas with longtime friend, Dick Vitale, about hosting a charity event in Dallas. When they realized the 2014 Final Four would be held at AT&T Stadium, Bill jumped at the chance to organize an event to coincide with it. He immediately contacted Donnie Nelson, the Dallas Mavericks general manager who was instrumental in opening Gilley’s back in 2003, to make sure no one from the NCAA had booked the famed venue. Once he secured the space, everything else fell into place. Bill recruited Under Armour — whose private parties he had attended in past Final Fours — plus various other corporate companies, smaller companies and private individuals to financially support the event, as well as Darius Rucker to provide musical entertainment.

“We have five private venues within Gilley’s that will host Under Armour and similar national brands,” Bill says. “We will also have our own VIP party that Dick is hosting in the ballroom. At 9 p.m., everyone feeds into the ballroom for a 20-minute presentation about the V Foundation, then Darius Rucker plays for an hour-and-a-half to close out the event.”

Attendees of Slam Dunk Cancer must be invited by a sponsor to purchase a $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 package. All money raised will go towards pediatric cancer research through the V Foundation, of which Dick Vitale is essentially the spokesperson. Because of his close relationship with Jimmy Valvano, Dick hosts his own event every May at his home in Sarasota, Fl., where he raises upwards of $2 million for the foundation.

Bill, who roots for college basketball teams based on which coaches he knows and respects, says Slam Dunk Cancer is a unique event because it’s one of the few he puts on where half the attendance is based on the four teams that will be in the Final Four.

“We don’t know until the week before who’s coming,” he says with a chuckle. “One of the balancing acts of doing something like this is trying to get the event sold ahead of time but then making sure you have inventory left that last week when everyone else decides they want to come. It’s a challenge from a business perspective, but it’s just what we do.”    

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