Ben Simmons, the former Purdue University Northwest (PNW) basketball star, pivots from his heroics on the hardcourt to supporting PNW’s Day of Giving. The Hammond native made a $100,000 gift to PNW’s NCAA Division II athletics program in hopes of inspiring other to give back to PNW as well.
“From what I learned during my time at Purdue Northwest, you can accomplish anything,” said Simmons, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. “I like to inspire, rather than motivate. I want to inspire the whole [Northwest Indiana] region to give back.”
Simmons’ life is an inspirational journey—from losing his father when he was five days old, to becoming an entrepreneur running his own company, BnX Sports Technology Inc. He is defined by a determination to succeed and spiritually centered through the support of his family, especially his mother, Virginia Jack. Part of Simmons’ donation established a $25,000 scholarship in her honor.
“My mom invested a lot in me educationally and spiritually,” said Simmons. “She never missed work. It made me never miss school or practice.”
Though she passed away five years ago, Jack’s spirit is an eternal well-spring of inspiration for Simmons even today. After retiring from the U.S. Postal Service, Jack went to college earning multiple degrees on her way to becoming an author. Simmons said his mother’s scholarship is intended to help students defray the cost of college textbooks.
PNW Athletics Director Rick Costello said the other part of Simmons’ gift supports an upgrade to a locker room in the Fitness and Recreation Center on PNW’s Hammond Campus.
“On behalf of the PNW Pride student-athletes and coaches, thank you, Ben Simmons, for your amazing generosity. This gift will have a significant and lasting impact on students. I am thrilled to name the Men’s Basketball Locker Room the ‘Ben Simmons Men’s Basketball Locker Room,’” said Costello. “A locker room is a place where team chemistry is built, memories are created, and student-athletes forge long lasting relationships with teammates and coaches. Quite simply, Ben’s donation is a game changer for PNW Athletics!”
From his inspiring play that set records on the court, Simmons hopes his gift will inspire others in northwest Indiana and beyond to break PNW’s Day of Giving participation record.
“I want to ignite that,” said Simmons. “It’s a beautiful school. I’m humbled and honored to be in a position to work hard and give back.”