Porter-Billups Leadership Academy raises $200,000 at gala

February 06, 2019

With basketball legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving as the keynote speaker, the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy (PBLA) raised $200,000 during its Jan. 26 gala at the Ritz-Carlton in Denver. More than 400 guests attended the sold-out event that included live and silent auctions.

PBLA’s executive director, Lonnie Porter, welcomed guests to the gala and NBA All-Star Chauncey Billups, who joined the Academy’s mission in 2006, introduced Dr. J., who did a sit-down with emcee Susie Wargin, the midday DJ for 103.5 The Fox.

Three PBLA alumni spoke at the event, including Monique Gonzales, who graduates from Regis in May with a Doctorate of Pharmacy.

“I appreciate Regis University and the Denver community for their tremendous show of love for the PBLA,” said Porter.

Dr. J was one of the dominant basketball players in the NBA during the 1970s and ’80s, winning three championships and four Most Valuable Player awards, most notably with the Philadelphia 76ers. He was an innovator who changed the way the game was played, popularizing giant leaps and playing above the rim. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

“Dr. J was one of a kind, classy and gracious,” Porter said. “He agreed to be the keynote speaker because of his belief in the PBLA.”

The Academy is a nonprofit that supports Denver youth who have leadership potential. Through a three-week summer program and year-round support, youth develop skills to combat peer pressure, become leaders among their peers, see education as a path to success and graduate from high school and college.

Elementary students are nominated by teachers, counselors and principals. Students who complete seven years of the Academy and qualify academically are provided scholarships for tuition and fees to attend Regis University.

Since longtime Regis men’s basketball Coach Lonnie Porter retired from coaching and founded the PBLA in 1996, it has graduated 160 students, at least 92 percent of whom have gone to college. Twenty-eight of those students have graduated from Regis.

In 2006, Billups joined Porter and the Academy was renamed. Billups, now an NBA analyst for ESPN, joins Academy students each summer to provide support and motivation. Last year he became a member of Regis University’s Board of Trustees.

The PBLA’s next fundraising event is its annual golf tournament at the Cherry Creek Country Club in Denver on Monday, July 22. To register for the tournament or to learn more about how to support the Academy, visit its website, call 303.458.4094 or email Lisa Hamilton at lhamilton@regis.edu.

Established in 1877, Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit Catholic tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. One of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation, Regis has four campus locations in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs and extensive online program offerings with more than 11,000 enrolled students. For more information, visit www.regis.edu.

PHOTO: Pictured with Julius “Dr. J” Erving, second from right, are the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy’s leadership team: Chauncey Billups (at left), Staci Porter-Bentley and Lonnie Porter.