Pacers Foundation Awards $150,000 in Grants and Scholarships

INDIANAPOLIS – At its recent quarterly meeting, the Pacers Foundation Board of Directors awarded $157,500 in grants to 16 youth-serving agencies in Indiana.

The largest grant, $33,000, was to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. It is the first installment of a three-year, $100,000 pledge to BGCI for its new club being constructed at 38th and Post Road in Indianapolis.

For the second straight year, the Foundation awarded $25,000 to the Indiana Youth Institute for sponsorship of its annual Because Kids Count conference in December.

The Foundation also voted to renew its sponsorship of Pacers- and Fever-themed rooms in the Ronald McDonald House serving patients and families at Riley Hospital for Children.

Three of the grants are arts-related: to the KIPP Indianapolis School to support music education; to the Indiana Repertory Theatre in support of its Student Matinee and Exploring Stages programs; and to the Cornerstone Center for Arts in Muncie, Ind., for its Kids Financial Aid program.

“While we represent two great sports franchises in the Pacers and Fever, the Foundation board also believes it is important to demonstrate our support for music and arts, especially as many school systems have been forced to reduce programs in those areas,” said Rick Fuson, Foundation board chair.

The Foundation also designated funds from the Fever’s Be YOUnique fund to three agencies helping girls: Girls Inc. of Indianapolis, the Social Health Association of Indianapolis and the Hope Crisis Pregnancy Center in Connersville, Ind.

“As with many foundations, we consider a multitude of programs submitted by agencies for grants to bring much-needed services and programming to our Indiana youth in need,” said Fuson. “We attempt to spread our resources to impact as many of our children as possible.”

The Pacers Foundation draws its funding primarily from two events: Its annual golf outing, which takes place Sept. 24 at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, and the Masquerade, which will be Oct. 24 at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott and also benefits the Simon Youth Foundation. This year’s Masquerade honoree is Pacers Sports & Entertainment Vice Chair and long-time civic leader Jim Morris.

Jim Morris To Be 2015 Masquerade Honoree

Celebration of Pacers Vice-Chair, Civic Leader to Benefit Simon Youth Foundation and Pacers Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Morris, Pacers Sports & Entertainment vice chairman and long-time Indianapolis civic leader, will be the honoree at The 14th Annual Masquerade at the JW Marriott on Saturday, October 24, 2015.

The Masquerade is one of Indianapolis’s most impactful fund-raising events.  In its first 14 years, $9.5 million has been donated to the Simon Youth Foundation and the Pacers Foundation in support of education and mentoring programs for at-risk youth.

First in his role as chief deputy to then mayor Richard G. Lugar and then in executive positions with Lilly Endowment, the Indianapolis Water Company and Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Morris has been a guiding force in Indianapolis’s emergence as a national leader in sports.

Morris also had a significant international impact while serving from 2002-07 as the executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency.

Morris joined PS&E in 2007 as a Special Advisor to then CEO/President Donnie Walsh and was named President, April 16, 2008. He became vice chairman last fall. He is a graduate of Indiana University with a master’s degree from Butler University.

Last year’s honoree was Larry Bird. Other past honorees include Deborah J. Simon, Cindy Simon Skjodt, Tamika Catchings, Rick Fuson, Steve Stitle, Frank Hancock, Jeff Smulyan, the Hulman-George Family, Melvin Simon, Herbert Simon, Reggie Miller, Bobby “Slick” Leonard, Clark Kellogg and Donnie Walsh.

The Masquerade evening begins with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner and tribute starting at 7 p.m.  Special guests at the event include the entire Indiana Pacers team and basketball staff as well as many of the past Masquerade honorees.

The Masquerade is made possible through the generous support of many local and national sponsors. PNC Bank will return as the event’s title sponsor for the 14th year.

For ticket and sponsorship information, please contact Brandi Young at (317) 263-7694 or

About Simon Youth Foundation:

Simon Youth Foundation, a national nonprofit, exists to help at-risk students who are on the verge of dropping out of high school stay in school. Through 22 Simon Youth Academies in 12 states and Simon Youth Scholarships, SYF advocates, creates and initiates educational opportunities for students so they can start here and go anywhere. In partnership with local public schools, SYF has maintained a 90% graduation rate at its Academies since inception, graduated more than 13,000 students, and awarded more than $13 million in scholarships. Learn more at

About Pacers Foundation:

Pacers Foundation encourages Indiana’s youth to make winning life choices through contributions and community partnerships. Since its inception in 1994, the Pacers Foundation has provided more than $6.5 million to youth-serving Indiana agencies and has enabled thousands of youth to attend Pacers and Indiana Fever games through ticket donations. For more information, visit

Pacers Foundation Awards $96,500 in Grants

Concludes ‘14-15 Fiscal Year with $409,097 Given to 48 Youth-Serving Organizations

INDIANAPOLIS – The Board of Pacers Foundation last week voted to approve grants totaling $96,500 to 15 youth-serving organizations throughout Indiana.

The largest gift was to the Indianapolis Urban League for its Project Full Circle, which assists youth from low-income backgrounds in preparing for post-secondary education.

“Pacers Foundation welcomes the opportunity to provide much-needed support to organizations trying to help at-risk youth discover the path to better lives,” said Foundation Board Chairman Rick Fuson, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Pacers Sports & Entertainment.

In addition to the Indianapolis Urban League, other grants were awarded to:

Agape Therapeutic Riding Resources, Cicero; Arts for Learning, Indianapolis; Camptown, Inc., Indianapolis; The Chris Lytle Foundation, New Palestine; Community Involvement in Learning, Franklin; Dyslexia Institute of Indiana, Indianapolis; Fathers and Families Center, Indianapolis; Forest Manor Community Center, Indianapolis; Happy Hollow Children’s Camp, Indianapolis; the Lesley West Prom Dress Drive, Indianapolis; Peace Learning Center, Indianapolis; St. Mary’s Child Center, Indianapolis; Vigo County Education Foundation, Terre Haute, and VSA Indiana Urban Artisans, Indianapolis.

The grant for the Chris Lytle Foundation came from the Indiana Fever’s BeYounique Fund, targeted for helping girls. Lytle has an anti-bullying program.

In concluding its 2014-15 fiscal year, the Foundation distributed $409,097 to 48 organizations. That is in addition to ongoing multi-year commitments to the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, the Indianapolis Police Foundation, Center for Leadership Development, Crossroads of America Boy Scout Council and Gleaners Food Bank.

Pacers Foundation, in conjunction with St.Vincent Sports Performance Center, will also award three Linda Craig Memorial Scholarships to Indiana college students pursuing degrees in sports medicine disciplines. Craig was the wife of long-time Pacers trainer David Craig.

Pacers Refurbish RISE Learning Center

Pacers Cut The Ribbon At Rise Learning Center

by Greg Rappaport |

On Wednesday night at the RISE Learning Center, a school for special needs students, the ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the brand new Pacers Learn & Play Center. The center features not only a redone gymnasium with new flooring, but also a room with brand new exercise equipment (with a special Pacers paint job inside), as well as technology upgrades like touch screen tablets for the computer and information room.

PHOTO GALLERY: Pacers Refurbish RISE Learning Center »

In attendance were Pacers players George Hill and Chris Copeland, Vice President of Basketball Operations Peter Dinwiddie, Vice President for Player Relations Carl Daniels, Broadcaster Chris Denari, over 100 excited kids and parents—and of course, Boomer. The energetic mascot got the night started by jumping over five children in a single bound, as well as passing out a near-record amount of high fives to the excited kids.

“This was all made possible by the Pacers making the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago,” Denari told the eager crowd. “The NBA provides funding to do (community projects), and in partnership with the Pacers, RISE learning center is the beneficiary of that.”

So it was fitting that Hill and Copeland were in attendance; two players who were instrumental in the Pacers’ deep playoff run of last season. Prior to the ribbon being cut, Hill took to the podium to address the crowd and thank everyone in attendance. He and Cope also presented the RISE Learning Center with a customized jersey featuring the name “RISE” on the back, signed by all the Pacers.

“This is the city I grew up in all my life, and nothing makes me prouder than to always give back to my community,” Hill told the crowd, before presenting them all with tickets to an upcoming game.

“He’s the hometown hero, and he really embraces that nickname,” Dinwiddie said. “He is active and heavily involved in the community.”

After Hill and Copeland helped some of the kids work on their jump shots, it was finally time to break out the pair of comedically large scissors, and cut the ribbon for the ceremonial opening of the Pacers Learn & Play Center. As Cope and Hill cut the ribbon, the kids piled in to try out the new exercise equipment and meet the Pacers.

Along with the NBA and the Pacers Foundation, Aaron’s contributed a great deal of support for the project in the form of both donation and volunteer effort. The Pacers Learn & Play Center has been in the works since June, and the ribbon cutting marks the accomplishment of months of collaborative work from all parties involved.

“It’s been such a great project,” Pacers Director of Community Relations Kelli Towels said “The school itself, the staff has been amazing. Aaron’s, when they came on board, they just kind of took it up another notch. It’s been amazing.”

Foundation News Release

Pacers Foundation Awards Over $50,000 in Grants and Scholarships

INDIANAPOLIS – At its fourth quarter board meeting, Pacers Foundation awarded $50,000 in grants to seven agencies.

They include a grant to Pacers guard C.J. Watson’s Quiet Storm Foundation, which supports a writing and speech program for Indianapolis-area youth that culminates in a recognition luncheon for participants in February at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Foundation also provided a grant to The Cure Starts Now Foundation in honor of former Lawrenceburg, Ind., basketball star Lauren Hill, who is suffering from a form of pediatric brain cancer. Hill, her parents, friends and teammates, were recognized at an Indiana Pacers’ preseason game. Hill also was made an honorary member of the WNBA Indiana Fever.

The Foundation also voted to again support Team Smile, an event that will take place at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in February and provide dental screening and treatment for several hundred Indianapolis-area youth.

Other grants approved:

  • Alternatives Incorporated, Anderson, in support of a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
  • Assistance League of Indianapolis, which provides shoes and clothing to underserved youth.
  • Center for Leadership Development, Indianapolis, which provides academic assistance and college preparation for minority students.
  • College Mentors for Kids, Indianapolis, which provides college students as mentors for underserved high school youth.
  • Concord Neighborhood Center, Indianapolis, in support of technology curriculum for an after-school program.

“Pacers Foundation is pleased to provide much-needed assistance to these deserving agencies and causes,” said Foundation chairperson Rick Fuson. “They are on the front line of providing hope and help for those who need it most, especially our youth.”

Pacemates present check to IPS Harshman Middle School

IPS Harshman Magnet Middle School Receives $25,000 Donation

On Monday, November 3rd, the Pacers Foundation presented a check for $25,000 to IPS Harshman Magnet Middle School on Indianapolis’ near Eastside in collaboration with the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. The donation will help fund a project to teach informatics to 60 students throughout the school year in a weekly series of two-hour, after-school learning experiences. The focus will be on informatics and computing and how information technology can be applied to a wide range of real-world challenges and opportunities. This range includes health, security, marketing, logistics, education, sports and entertainment – and almost any field or business that relies on information management. Students are learning practical and conceptual skills from a team of faculty and advanced students at IUPUI.

Check presentation at midcourt

CNO Financial Group and Indiana Pacers Continue to Score Big for Indiana’s At-Risk Youth

CARMEL, Ind., Oct. 28, 2014 — For the 15th consecutive season, CNO Financial Group and the Indiana Pacers are teaming up to raise money to help support Indiana’s at-risk youth through its 3-point charity program.

CNO Financial Group – a life and health insurance holding company based in Carmel and the parent company of Bankers Life – will donate $50 to the Pacers Foundation for every three-point shot scored by an Indiana Pacers player at Bankers Life Fieldhouse during the 2014-2015 regular season.

To celebrate the Pacers’ 300+ three-pointers scored last season, a brief ceremony will be held at the home opener on Wednesday, Oct. 29. During halftime, CNO Financial Group CEO Ed Bonach will present a $16,500 check to the Pacers Foundation, and again pledge $50 for each of the Pacers’ home three-pointers.

“It’s a privilege to partner with the Pacers Foundation and help build better communities,” said Bonach. “Our contribution to the Pacers Foundation – like many of our other philanthropic programs – affirms our commitment to making Indiana a better place to live, learn, work and play.”

“Pacers Sports & Entertainment and the Pacers Foundation have no better partner than CNO Financial Group,” said PS&E President and COO Rick Fuson, who also is chair of the Pacers Foundation. “It is gratifying to know that Indiana youth also benefit every time one of our players hit a three-pointer.”

Since 1999, CNO Financial Group has donated more than $225,000 to the Pacers Foundation toward its mission to build stronger Indiana communities by investing in educational programs and activities for at-risk youth and their families.

About CNO Financial Group

CNO Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: CNO) is a holding company. Our insurance subsidiaries – principally Bankers Life and Casualty Company, Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company and Washington National Insurance Company – primarily serve middle-income pre-retiree and retired Americans by helping them protect against financial adversity and provide for a more secure retirement. For more information, visit CNO online at

About Pacers Foundation

Established in 1993, Pacers Foundation’s mission is to support collaborative initiatives to encourage Indiana’s youth in making winning life choices. We do this through grant making, scholarships and other community partnerships. To learn more, visit

SOURCE CNO Financial Group, Inc.

Larry Bird Honored at Masquerade

by Mark Montieth

Bill Walton remembers the team meals at the Scotch and Sirloin, the restaurant in Boston where the Celtics players could get a free meal. The players’ only financial obligation was to leave a tip.

“At the end of the meal, Larry would surreptitiously wait until everybody left and he would go around and see how much money was left on the table, and he would supplement the tips,” Walton recalled. “He wouldn’t let anybody see him. But I’ve got good peripheral vision.”

It would take X-ray vision to recognize most of Bird’s acts of charity. He prefers an under-the-table approach – or on-the-table, when necessary. He tries to keep it quiet. No press releases, no press conferences, no speeches, nothing … unless there’s a benefit to that as well.

That’s why Bird participated in One Legendary Night Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Masquerade’s annual fund-raising banquet for the Simon Youth Foundation and Pacers Foundation. He might have preferred to stay home with his family, but duty called.

“I don’t necessarily like to get up and speak,” he said beforehand. “But tonight I’m going to get up and talk about Bill Walton, and that’s going to be fun,” he added, laughing.

Walton was an invited guest, flying in from his home near San Diego, to help honor his former Celtics teammate. And while Bird is nearly as reluctant to talk about his charitable acts as he is about his Hall of Fame playing career, Walton has never been shy about bragging for Bird.

“Larry’s life is charity,” Walton said before the ball. “He tolerates people like me.

“His ability to inspire others, his ability to make others’ dreams come true … Larry Bird is so similar to John Wooden, so similar to Jerry Garcia, because it’s never about them. They only want the group to succeed. The list of things Larry does for others is endless. But you never hear about it.”

Bird, Walton said, would begin each day in Boston with a large wad of cash in his pocket. By the end of the day, it was likely empty. Sometimes tips needed to be supplemented, sometimes people simply needed help.

Bird learned the value of empathy while growing up in French Lick, in a poor family that sometimes needed help from others.

“We didn’t have a lot,” he said. “We were greatly benefited by gifts and different things during my childhood so it’s only fitting that I give back.”

It’s not always easy for Bird. He grew up in French Lick, went to college in Terre Haute, played his professional career in Boston, lived in Naples, Fla. after retiring, and has lived in Indianapolis while working for the Pacers as a coach and president. A lot of towns and cities claim him, and a lot of people and organizations ask for his help. He can’t say yes to everyone. But he says yes to many.

“My wife (Dinah) and I try to do as much as we can,” he said. “You can never do enough. You’ve got to give back. That’s what it’s all about.”

Walton spoke at the ball for more than 15 minutes, praising Bird as a friend and teammate. He ended with a story about a scrimmage in practice, when Bird was playing with the starters and he was playing with the reserves. The reserves had been dominating, but the assistant coaches who were officiating the scrimmage began showing blatant favoritism to the starters. So, a fed-up Walton grabbed a rebound and walked it over to head coach K.C. Jones to complain.

Jones took the ball and replied, “Bill, you know full well that we can never get out of here until Larry’s team wins a game.”

Bird spoke for about 17 minutes, telling a story about attending a Grateful Dead concert with Walton when the Celtics were in Oakland during their playing careers, and joking about the effect of all the substances in the air that night.

“Having an out-of-body experience with Bill Walton, you can’t beat it,” he said, laughing.

Bird concluded with a few comments about the current Pacers team, currently handicapped by injuries.

“I love every player,” he said. “Our players play. We always talking about putting it on the line, doing the right thing. You can’t beat this group of guys. You’re going to have injuries. It’s how you come out of it. Who steps up. Who pushes harder. That’s what it’s all about.

“We’re all blessed to be in the NBA, where we make good money and can do good things for charity, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about competition. It’s all about fighting hard, it’s all about working hard. That goes for everyone every day in life. Not just the NBA.”

The evening also included video tributes from various people associated with the Pacers, along with NBA greats such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Ewing, Pat Riley, Jerry West, Ralph Sampson, former commissioner David Stern and current commissioner Adam Silver.

David Letterman also provided a lengthy video in which he told a story about how, when he lived in Indianapolis, he was accosted one evening by “some young toughs” downtown. He was saved by a stranger who gave him a ride, took him to dinner and gave him $500. Letterman said the man only described himself as a guy from a small town who played a little basketball.

Letterman said he took the money and moved to Los Angeles to begin a new career in television. Then one day he was reading the Los Angeles Times and saw a picture of an athlete who looked familiar. It was the guy from a small town who played a little basketball.

“It was Rick Mount,” Letterman said.


Pacers Foundation Awards $118,000 in Grants and Scholarships

The board of directors of Pacers Foundation, Inc., awarded $118,000 in grants and scholarships at its recent quarterly meeting.

Grant recipients included LaPlaza to support a college mentoring program; the Social Health Association for an anti-bullying initiative; Ronald McDonald House to support families who can’t afford the cost of a hospital stay; the Catch The Stars Foundation of Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings; Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis; Coburn Place Safe Haven; Christamore House; HANDS in Autism training and resource center at IUPUI; Sheltering Wings; Arts for Learning; Kids’ Voice in Indiana; Restoring Lives West and the Young Actors Theatre.  Read More

Larry Bird

The Masquerade Announces Larry Bird as 2014 Honoree

Celebration of Hoosier Basketball Legend to Benefit Simon Youth Foundation and Pacers Foundation

Indiana basketball legend, NBA Hall of Famer and Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird will be the honoree at The Masquerade at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday, October 25, 2014.

From his early days at Springs Valley High School in French Lick, Ind. and Indiana State University to his renowned NBA career with the Boston Celtics and now with the Indiana Pacers, Bird always has risen to the top as a hardworking leader who inspires others to excel on and off the court. Read More

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.