Generous people like those gathered for the 17th annual Trine University Scholarship Gala had a huge impact on Isiah Thomas.
“Not many times do you have the opportunity to speak to a group of people that have
made such a difference in so many people’s lives, but really haven’t had the opportunity
to be thanked properly for that,” the NBA superstar told those in attendance. “I was
one of those kids that received charity, and I was one of those kids that received
the benefit of a room like this from people that I never met, that gave me the opportunity.”
The Gala raised about $1.4 million for Trine University student scholarships, including
a $250,000 match for Books and Beyond scholarships from Trine board chair alumnus
Dr. Rick L. James and his wife, Dr. Vicki L. James, and The James Foundation. More
than 450 attended the Feb. 8 event.
During his address, Thomas recounted growing up as the youngest of nine children in
an impoverished family on the west side of Chicago, and how the generosity of financial
supporters allowed him to participate in youth basketball programs. He also mentioned
the impact Bob Knight, Thomas’ coach at IU, had on him.
Knight and Thomas had reunited earlier in the day during a special ceremony at Indiana
University marking the 40th anniversary of the IU’s national basketball championship. But Thomas said the gratitude
shown to Knight was for far more than basketball.
“The outpouring of love that you saw us giving to Coach Knight today was a thank you
and a we appreciate you coach for making sure that we did right when all of us wanted
to do wrong,” Thomas said.
Thomas said speaking at the Scholarship Gala brought back many good memories of the
support he received and reminded him how different his life would have been without
“There may be some kid that you’re going to help where he or she can literally grow
up to change the world and you may not ever know it,” he said. “But he or she may
stand up in a room like this and let everybody know that if it wasn’t for the charity,
the compassion and the giving of a room like this, that person who has a chance to
change the world wouldn’t be standing here.
“Tonight while we’re here, let’s make it happen for those who haven’t had a chance
to experience the generosity that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience in my life;
that totally changed my life and gave me an opportunity to be here in front of you.
Let’s give some other kids and people a chance tonight.”
Guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner by Bon Appetit and live and silent auctions throughout
the evening. The program closed with two songs by Lydia Tremaine, a Trine student
who was the 2018 Miss Indiana.
Tremaine also noted the impact financial aid has had on her life.
“I come from an amazing family that loves me very much, but affording college was
something they couldn’t offer me,” Tremaine said before performing her last song.
“Because of the scholarship dollars provided by Trine University in partnership with
the Miss Indiana organization, I will be graduating 100 percent debt-free from Trine
University, which is such a blessing. I think this is such a testament to why we are
here tonight. You’re providing students at Trine the opportunity to pursue their dreams
without worrying about the financial burden.”
Since its inception, the Scholarship Gala has raised millions of dollars for Trine
University student scholarships. Scholarship funds are a critical part of allowing
students to attend Trine, which awarded more than $33 million in institutional aid
Photos: Top, Indiana University and NBA superstar Isiah Thomas gestures at the audience during
the 17th annual Trine University Scholarship Gala, held Feb. 8 in the Keith E. Busse/Steel
Dynamics Inc. Athletic and Recreation Center. The event raised a record $1.4 million
for Trine student scholarships. At right, Lydia Tremaine, a Trine University student
and Miss Indiana 2018, closes the 17th annual Trine University Scholarship Gala by singing “That’s Life,” a Frank Sinatra
hit she performed in competition at the Miss America pageant. (Photos by Dean Orewiler)
Last Updated: 02/12/2020