Kosciusko County Big Brothers Big Sister welcomed Indiana University basketball legend Kent Benson as a guest speaker for its first “Big Celebration” dinner. The dinner was held at Champagne Jam and featured a silent auction, food and impressive speeches by several Big Brothers Big Sisters committee members. IU and teamwork were big themes of the night, as Benson’s presence was large both literally and figuratively.
Among those delivering speeches was former “little” Jason Ewell. Ewell is now an adult with children of his own, but was overcome with emotion when reflecting on his experience in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Ewell detailed how he had grown up with no paternal presence in his life, and with no other children in the neighborhood to play with he was encouraged by his mother to join the program that, as he explained, took “a good childhood and made it great.”
DuPont and Associates President and CEO Terry DuPont introduced Benson, making a joke that IU is the only educational institution mentioned in the bible, referring to John chapter 20, verse 21. DuPont also offered up his new book to anyone that signed up to donate $100 or more to the organization.
Benson delivered a powerful speech on the importance of role models for young children, using examples from his own upbringing and his time on the IU basketball team, to convey how mentors help aid in the achievement of goals. He told a story from when he was in eighth grade and was approached by someone he considered a mentor who told him that in order to be successful a person need only remember the five D’s: desire, determination, dedication, discipline and direction.
Benson got big laughs when he made jokes about IU’s bitter rival, Purdue, as he said, “We’re so blessed here in Indiana to have so many great educational institutions. I chose to go to Indiana for many reasons, but, I will say this, when I was visiting all the schools, I made sure I went to all the gymnasiums I would be playing in. How many of you have been to Mackey Arena. Isn’t it the greatest place in the world to play a game of basketball. There’s not a bad seat in the house, and the reason why is they don’t have any national championship banners to block the view.”
Items such as an football signed by NFL Hall of Fame player Terry Bradshaw, a suit from Male Fashions and a two-night stay at Lake Wawasee’s Oakwood Resort were among the items in the silent auction.
John Elliot and Andy Swihart were the winners of the night’s big ticket items, each winning a dinner with Benson and four guests at Noa Noa sushi restaurant in Warsaw.