The 19th Annual Brad Miller Gala ended with a bang like usual, but this time, it wasn’t just the fireworks show. It was the sound of dozens of gold confetti cannons set off one-by-one by guests who graciously donated in increments of fifty dollars all the way up to fifty THOUSAND for our 50th anniversary!


One of those generous donors was former Little Brother Ryan Hellinger, who took to the stage for a moving speech about how his Big Brother Vince Wirtner changed his life way back in 1984.

“When you’re young, you don’t recognize how much you might need an ear to talk to or a sounding board for advice,” said Ryan, who lost his father at a young age. “Vince didn’t have any special qualifications, but for me, he was all that and more. He stepped up and brought me into his life.”

At the end of his speech, Ryan surprised everyone by donating $50,000 from his company CME — $1,000 for every year Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana has been in business. His donation moved CEO Josette Rider to tears, but Ryan wasn’t the only generous giver of the night! NIPSCO and NiSource presented a check for $50,000 to be used for Conservation Buddies, a local Big Brothers Big Sisters program that gives Littles the chance to experience the great outdoors. For many of them, it’s their first time ever leaving the city, and it couldn’t be done without former Little Brother and retired NBA star Brad Miller himself.


Growing up, Brad liked nothing more than getting out on the lake or going hunting with his Big Brother Dewey Forbes. He wants other Littles to get the same opportunity. That’s why he created the Brad Miller Camp-Out, a section of Conservation Buddies where Bigs and Littles spend the entire weekend under the stars and engaged in environmental education activities at Brad’s hunting lodge.

His love for the great outdoors extends to the annual gala and auction, where Brad regularly donates an exclusive Texas Deer Hunt and other hunting/fishing opportunities. These are often the hottest-selling items of the night, and this year was no exception. Generous bidders went ALL OUT on the Texas Deer Hunt, leading to a whole new round of glittering confetti as audience members shot off their cannons to signify more donations. And the giving spirit only continued as the weekend progressed, with dozens of teams competing in the Sunday and Monday Golf Outings despite the rain!


Team Pizza Hut braves the rain for a good cause on the Sunday Golf Outing

All in all, the Brad Miller Gala, Auction & Golf Outing raised a record-breaking $725,000 to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships and defend the potential of our youth. We’d like to give a BIG thank you to our presenting sponsors, McCampbell Enterprises United, Inc.; Indiana Physical Therapy; and Pro Resources Staffing Services. It was your generosity that made this event possible!

That was our 50th anniversary … and our 19th annual gala with Brad Miller.

We can’t wait to see you for our 20th!

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