Green Bay's All-Time Leading Receiver and Super Bowl Champion
The Donald Driver Driven to Achieve Awards got off to a rousing start Saturday with a packed ballroom of Milwaukee-area business executives and an enthusiastic performance by national music icon Gladys Knight.
Driver, a former Green Bay Packers wide receiver, teamed with BMO Harris Bank to launch the awards program to honor local and national community efforts. Seven people were honored at the event and more than $200,000 was donated to various charities. Other major sponsors included MillerCoors and Jockey International.
The Wisconsin winners were Patti Gorsky, president of Make-A-Wish Wisconsin; Lynda Kohler, president of Sharp Literacy Inc.; Laura Ziemer of Miracle League of the Lakeshore in Sheboygan; and John Bergstrom, chairman of automotive group Bergstrom Corp. The national honorees were Anthony Robles, of Make-A-Hero, and Knight. Robles won a 2010-11 NCAA individual wrestling championship in the 125-pound weight class despite being born with only one leg.
“For years, the spotlight has been on me, but now I want to shine it on people who are making a difference in the community,” Driver said. “There are so many people out there making a difference every day and I want to honor their efforts.
“When you see these things it makes you fight and continue to fight so that you can give them an opportunity. Someone gave me an opportunity – and now it’s time for me to do that for someone else. And if I don’t do that, then I feel like I’m wasting my time on this earth.”
Driver and BMO executives said they intend to make the awards an annual event.
The many business executives in attendance included John Schlifske, CEO of Northwestern Mutual; John Daniels Jr., chairman emeritus of Quarles & Brady LLP; Brad Chapin, executive vice president of business banking for BMO Harris Bank; Tina Chang, chief executive officer of SysLogic Inc.; David Lubar, president of Lubar & Co.; Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee; Coreen Dicus-Johnson, president of the central market for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare; Vincent Lyles, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee; and Joel Brennan, president of Discovery World.
The highlights of the evening were a 30-minute performance by Knight, which included her hit “Midnight Train to Georgia,” along with a live auction that raised more than $80,000. In fact, eight guests, including Lubar, paid $2,000 each to throw a football to Driver on stage. They got to keep the autographed football.