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Former 'Survivor' to speak at Hamilton Center dinner

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

TERRE HAUTE -- Hamilton Center recently announced that former "Survivor" contestant Rupert Boneham will serve as Keynote Speaker for the organization's 2008 annual dinner.

Boneham, creator of Rupert's Kids, an Indianapolis-based program that serves youth who have received intensive services from many social service programs in the region. Through work programs such as landscaping and home renovation, members of Rupert's Kids learn skills and values that will lead them toward stability in their lives, in housing, employment and relationships.

The annual Hamilton Center dinner and awards ceremony will take place Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, at Indiana State University's Hulman Center.

The evening will also include Hamilton Awards, which will be presented to business organiztions and individuals that have contributed to the cause of mental health and/or care of persons with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities or substance abuse problems.

An award will also be given to a Hamilton Center staff member who has demonstrated a personal commitment to the cause of behavioral health and advanced the mission of Hamilton Center through service above and beyond the duties of a position.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 28, and the program will begin at 7 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling Kay Skinner at 812-231-8317. Cost is $30 per person and $240 for a table of eight.

Boneham is a survivor as well. In a game that cuts through any pretense, he outlived intense scrutiny of 38 million television viewers in 2004. That's the year that CBS's "Survivor: All-Stars," announced the American public would choose which All-Star player deserved a second million-dollar prize. Show creator Mark Burnett had never done this before and hasn't since.

But, it initiated a sequence of events that Boneham called his "miracle."

On the finale of "Survivor: All-Stars," show host Jeff Probst revealed that four out of five of the 38 million votes were for Boneham.

Prior to becoming a millionaire and an instant pop culture icon, Boneham developed worked with troubled teens in Central Indiana. In 1983, Boneham began working in the mental health field, working with kids in Abilene, Texas.

By 1990, Boneham followed his passion to work with troubled teens to Indiana. In 1991, he purchased his first abandoned property from Indianapolis to provide vocational training to a group of teens that had been expelled from school.

The refurbished house was later made available to low-income families. As the organization evolved, it became more active in local government projects that would benefit the entire community.

After winning his millions, Boneham made good on a promise to donate a large portion to create Ruper's Kids, the culmination of 20-plus years of work with at-risk teens.

Hamilton Center, Inc., is a regional behavioral health system serving Central and West Central Indiana.

Offices are located in Clay, Greene, Hendricks, Marion, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties. The organization provides a broad array of behavioral health services to children, adolescents and adults.

For more information about Hamilton Center, visit www.hamiltoncenter.org or call 812-231-8320.

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