TEAMING UP

The Colts, the Pacers and Emmis Communications are joining forces to try to make a difference in Indianapolis Public Schools through the 'Suiting Up for School' drive, the goal of which is to raise money to purchase school uniforms, supplies and meals for students.

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Colts, Pacers, Emmis Join Forces to Help IPS Students

INDIANAPOLIS - The Colts and Indiana Pacers long have been two of their respective s' top organizations.

Now, they're joining together for an important cause.

The Colts, the Pacers and Emmis Communications are joining forces to try to make a difference in Indianapolis Public Schools through the "Suiting Up for School" drive, the goal of which is to raise money to purchase school uniforms, supplies and meals for students.

The joint venture was announced at a ceremony at Monument Circle Monday.

"We have such a great relationship and it's good to be part of this," Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay said Monday. "Both of us go back a long way. You guys (the media) don't see us together a lot, but (Pacers Co-Owner) Herb (Simon) is really a great supporter."

Irsay appeared at the ceremony with Simon and Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan, with Colts players Tony Ugoh and Keyunta Dawson and Pacers players Jeff Foster and Danny Granger also attending.

"Both teams have been working for a number of months to put together a community fundraising project that is truly unprecedented," Smulyan said. "It's typical of how we come together in the community and I couldn't be prouder. . . .

"It's two great organizations coming together, making a difference for kids in the community. That's what this community always has been about, coming together to make a difference."

The Colts, Pacers and Emmis each donated $25,000 to launch the 10-week campaign, during which fans are encouraged to donate toward the initiative. The campaign will culminate at the Hank's Advantage Health SkyConcert, scheduled for Saturday, August 30, at White River State Park.

"Jeff's really pushed this thing and Herb and I wanted to be involved," Irsay said. "It's great when you can partner with other people in the community. You can get a lot more done. I think we always feel a big responsibility to the youth. We've been working with a lot of the flood victims, coming up with different things to help them. There is always a lot of great need, but when you can help the kids – they're the future of our city and our state – and empower them, that's how you really change the world."

Irsay said the joint nature of the program is not only unique, but key to its potential success.

"We're looking forward to participating in this program," Irsay said. "You give money and that makes a different, but you can use your high-profile image and that can really help awareness. That's what the Pacers and Colts really try to do, is not just give money, but bring awareness and excitement to causes. That, hopefully, can work in 10-fold ways to help these worthy causes.

"You see situations where there has been friction in towns between different franchises that are there. It never has been that way with the Pacers and Colts. That's because of the Simons and the way Herb is. He always thinks of the macro picture first.

"You have to think of the bigger picture, not just your self-interest. When you can partner together, sometime it can have a bigger impact."

Funds collected will be distributed to the Shepherd Community Center, the IPS Education Foundation, Gleaner's Food Bank and the United Way's Backpack Attack Program.

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White said of IPS's 35,000 students, an estimated 35,000 may be at or below poverty level.

"Giving them help to get started is the key to turning round this alarming situation in our community, and ultimately turning around the prospects for our community," White said, adding, "We're very thankful because they don't have to do this. But for them to do this really indicates their dedication and their support for our community. . . . .

"To have people step up and to support our community and our young people in this manner is just outstanding."

For more information, please visit www.suitingupforschool.org.

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