FORT WAYNE — What does a former NBA player, Big Brothers Big Sisters, an entertainment painter and local businesses have in common? They all contributed to the 10th annual Brad Miller Gala, Auction & Golf Outing that kicked off Saturday night at Memorial Coliseum.
The three-day event was established in 2004 as a means for former East Noble and Purdue standout Brad Miller to give back to Big Brothers Big Sisters, which helped him when he was younger.
“I was a Little (Brother) growing up. Somewhere around 8 to 10 years old, I got matched and got to know my Big Brother. We did the bowl-a-thon and all the different events that they do for matches,” Miller said. “I still have a relationship with my Big Brother and as I got older, I wanted to do a charity. My buddies were like, ‘Let’s do a golf outing’; it’s fun, you get to go play golf and hang out and make money for a good cause.”
Miller played in the NBA from 1998 until 2012 on six teams, including the Pacers and Bulls, and was named to the NBA All-Star team twice.
He spent six years with the Sacramento Kings, and before leaving California asked entertainment painter and “America’s Got Talent” finalist David Garibaldi to perform a set and contribute works for the event. Some of Garibaldi’s work has earned more than $36,000 at charity events.
Having raised more than $800,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters over nine years, the goal this year was to reach $1 million.
“We started at $20,000 back in year one,” Miller said. “Every year we’ve outdone the year before in growth and cracking over $200,000 a year now.”
Miller’s focus now is on his hunting business and TV show, which he wants to expand with other charities.
“I just need to decompress from the politics of basketball and all that and take some time away, he said. “I want to get involved with Wounded Warrior program with my properties, and have vets come up to hunt and set them up and do that all that,” he said.
“So I’m just using that and branching off into different aspects of it.”