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One of the really cool events in Indianapolis is the Indiana Historical Society's annual fundraiser “Living Legends”, which helps raise much-needed funds to benefit its education programs and services, while simultaneously recognizing and honoring Hoosiers who have made a lasting impact on Indiana and our nation through their personal or professional endeavors. I'm honored to be a board member of the Indiana Historical Society and look forward to this event every year. Last nights gala was one of most successful ever, and I want to personally thank everyone who helped support it.

This year's Living Legends honorees were the amazing Judge Sarah Evans Barker, of the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana; Dr. William Mays (known simply as Bill Mays), president and CEO of Mays Chemical Company (one of this nation's largest chemical distribution companies), and his wonderful wife Dr. Rose Mays, professor emeritus, Indiana University School of Nursing; and Raymond Leppard, Conductor Laureate of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and one of the nicest, kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of calling a friend,.

Warm thanks to my guests who made our table a fun and exciting time: Mary and Steve Paul, Dr. Michael and Nancy Busk, Jeff Baker and John Pickett, Jimmy and Muffi James, and the beautiful Audrey Larman. (Special thanks to Mary Paul for helping me organize my table -- she did all the work!!!)

I didn't think about using my iPhone to take photos or video until it was too late, I was having such a great time. By the time I thought of it I was talking to Richard Ford and Judy O'Bannon so I shot the very brief attached video of the two of them, along with the goofy photo. Everybody was having a great time!

The History Center, as it's called, sitting on the Downtown Canal, just recently unleashed its amazing new Indiana Experience programs which have attracted thousands of new visitors over the past several weeks, and I urge everyone reading this to go check it out at your earliest convenience. These new exhibits, and how they are displayed (bringing history alive in an amazing techno–manner), is stunning and is getting rave reviews from those who have seen it and experienced it. Hope to see ya there!

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The only children's hospital in Indiana recognized in any category by the nationally distributed Child Magazine, Riley Hospital for Children ranked 11th overall out of almost 250 children's hospitals across the United States.

A leader in pediatric care, not only in Indiana, but around the region, Riley Children's Hospital is Indiana's first and only comprehensive hospital dedicated exclusively to the care of children.

One of my first jobs when I moved to Indianapolis in 1972, as a newly trained emergency medical technician (EMT), was working for the largest local private ambulance service. I was frequently asked to drive our new, large ambulance/truck directly to a physician's home–usually on weekends and/or holidays–pick up the doctor, and then drive to an outlying hospital to pick up a newborn infant and safely transport it, in an incubator, back to Riley Hospital.

It was perhaps the first time in my life when I really recognize the value of a human life. I'll never forget the first time I pulled into the ambulance bay at Riley and was greeted by a small group of dedicated doctors and nurses who rushed to our ambulance, removed the incubator containing the newborn infant, and hastily moved into a room where they could perform their magic on the distressed child.

We should all be very proud to have Riley Children's Hospital in our community. Along with the Ronald McDonald House (which sits across the street On Michigan St.), Riley Children's Hospital is saving lives and helping thousands of families every year.

Thank you Riley!


Video below: Riley-produced promotional video explaining their mission and services. Worth the watch.

 
 
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Finally!  A very cool little place to eat, located very close to my downtown Indy home, right on the Canal.

I walked across Indiana Avenue tonight, and down the steps on the east side of the Canal, to try out the new Left Bank Cafe. It's fantastic! Excellent food!!

It's been open about a month, and I think it'll be hugely successful. I just hope it doesn't get so crowded that I'll have a hard time getting in for fast service! :0)

Photo: © Wil139/Bill, as posted on his flickr® account, here.

 
 
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The Indianapolis Business Journal reported in February that the Indianapolis International Airport ranked #1 on the list of 64 major airports in the United States with respect to across the board passenger satisfaction -- the results of a survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

Indianapolis received perfect scores of five points in the categories of overall satisfaction, accessibility, check-in, security, terminal and food and retail services. It scored four out of five in the baggage claim category. No other airport received as many perfect scores.

I flew in from Los Angeles last night at midnight.  LAX, the Los Angeles Airport, is no comparison to the Indianapolis airport, which is why it scored near the bottom of the same survey.

For fun, I used my iPhone to shoot a few seconds of the light show overhead in the passenger corridor leading to the parking garage and car rental area. Fun stuff!

 
 
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I hope you'll save the date for the hottest new exhibit from the Children's Museum of Indianapolis -- the world's largest children's Museum -- called "Rock Stars, Cars, and Guitars".

Opening night will feature a rocking' celebration party with great food and drink, on Friday, June 4th, 2010 from 7:30 PM until midnight inside our fabulous Children's Museum, where you'll be immersed in music by America's premier tribute to the Beatles: 'Britbeat"!

There will be music from every era of rock, with memorabilia from rock 'n roll collectors around the country including objects from the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Cheap Trick, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Elton John, and even U2!

Come dressed as your favorite rock star, or just in your most fun cocktail attire, but be ready to rock out!

You'll be among the first fans of the exhibit to be able to see awesome, one-of-a-kind artifacts from famous rock musicians, or to take the stage for a concert-experience of your own, and even be able to jam on real or simulated instruments. Here's your chance to feel what it's like!

This event is for adults only, and all proceeds go to support the Children's Museum Fund, which ensures that all children and families, regardless of income, have the opportunity to visit and experience the world's largest children's Museum. You can't do better than that!

Individual adult tickets are $75 -- but even better, bring your friends and buy a "Rock Star Package" for $1,500 and get 10 tickets along with a number of other very cool benefits. Click here for details.

Corporate sponsorships are still available, making it possible for your company to do its part to help make sure every kid and family who want to visit our Children's Museum can do so -- no matter their ability to pay! You can help make a family very happy!  See how easy it is, here.

See you there!

Let cute, sweet little Sarah show you around in the video below:

 
 
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In the run-up to the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, one of the many new projects around the city in preparation for the event is to transform the three block stretch of Georgia Street, in downtown Indianapolis, into a pedestrian friendly corridor that will run from the newly expanded Indiana convention Center all the way to the Conseco Fieldhouse -- connecting the two.

Local architectural powerhouse, Ratio Architects, has described the project as an "urban outdoor event venue", and says it should be completed before the city hosts the Super Bowl in 2012. The project will add new street lights, trees, a pedestrian path, a retractable overhead covering, along with outdoor cafés all along George Street from Capitol Avenue to Pennsylvania Street. George Street will continue to serve as a two-way street and will only be closed to traffic for special events.

I've included a PDF from Ratio Architects which includes several renderings and other images of the project.

 
 
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Don't miss this year's SPOTLIGHT event -- next Monday, May 10th -- in Indianapolis' Clowes Memorial Hall.  You'll have a great time watching fantastic performances by nearly every performing arts group in Indianapolis while simultaneously contributing much needed funding to the Indiana AIDS Fund.

See your friends there, buy truly unique items in this year's incredible silent auction (I've been informed that they'll have some special items this year), and watch some amazing performances -- all for only $15! (See the evening's complete list of performances, here.)

Of course, I'd rather you buy the $115 tickets, since they make an even greater impact on the evening's fundraising -- all of which goes to the Indiana AIDS Fund for their efforts to fund HIV/AIDS prevention and services around the state of Indiana. But, you could also buy a $15 ticket, and then budget $100 (or more) for purchases at the fabulous silent auction!!!

Have a great time May 10th!!

Complete details, and ability to buy tickets, can be found here.

Also, you don't want to miss "SPOTLIGHT ART", a stunning art exhibition related to HIV/AIDS. "SPOTLIGHT ART" will intersperse sculpture with 2-D paintings, digitalized photography and mixed-media works. The exhibition includes new work created exclusively for the exhibition by six multi-cultural artists as well as previously created work that illustrates the theme “courage and hope” in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Collectively, the exhibition will challenge Hoosiers to look at HIV disease through a different lens.  Full details here.

 
 
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I've been in Los Angeles since early December, finally coming back home Monday morning for meetings and the Elton John event tonight (of which I'm a co-sponsor).  Getting back made me eager to check out the changes in our city, especially in my own neighborhood on the west side of downtown. Was I surprised!

On my side of town, progress on the new JW Marriott hotel -- a few blocks south of my home -- has advanced remarkably. This new blue, glass-skinned high-rise is beautiful; along with its two adjoining siblings, these three hotels fill in the link between the White River State Park and downtown perfectly -- while helping to frame the baseball park across the street to the south. I blogged earlier about the stunning 15-ton stylized sculpture of a Cardinal which has been installed in the multimillion-dollar plaza at this new hotel complex -- it's worth a read, here.

Closer to home, progress on 'my leg' of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail -- which is one block each way north and west of my home -- has been huge!  The trail is nearing completion along the Canal as well as along both St Clair and Indiana Ave, with beautiful new landscaping (in addition to the landscape beds along the curbs, many large new trees have been planted along the trail) and contemporary lights which have sprung up, one after the other, as you walk along the trail; they are beautiful at night!  Our Cultural Trail sends a message that Indianapolis is an innovative city of choice. This video explains it all!

The new, beautifully-designed Gateway Parking Garage, across West Street a half block from me, will add much needed parking for the IUPUI campus, as well as for the new retail, office and commercial structures which will adjoin it and sit along Indiana Avenue, across from the Madame Walker Theatre.  A few blocks further down the street on Michigan, the new $750MM Wishard Hospital is well under way, with demolition and site prep moving along at a fast clip.

One of the more exciting developments for those of us living along the Canal, is the new Left Bank Cafe, located at Canal Level, below the beautiful new COSMOPOLITAN On The Canal luxury apartment building.  Operated by the street-level Mo'Joe Coffeehouse, which has been across the street at Michigan and Senate for several years, this welcome addition to the Canal is set to open in early May.

It's hard to beat Spring in Indiana. This year, along with beautiful weather, Spring is bringing a lush, green, fresh start -- and several new structural additions -- to my downtown west side neighborhood.

It's a great place to live!

Enjoy a pictorial walk through my neighborhood. Just click on any photo in either of the two sets of photos below, to enlarge, and then flip through a slide show as fast as you want.


 
 
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The distress of anyone struggling with the impact of HIV/AIDS on themselves or their families, anywhere in the state of Indiana as I write this, touches all of us -- no matter where we read this.

In 1994 my friends David Hochoy and Rob MacPherson conceived "Partners Performing for Life" -- a brilliant idea to bring together, for the first time ever, each of the performing arts organizations in Indianapolis onto one stage for one night of music, dance, theater and singing performances. Ever since, this eclectic lineup of performers has only been seen one time each year -- and on only one Indianapolis stage.

This year, Clowes Memorial Hall is again home to the performance deal of the year!  On May 10th,  this stunning annual performing arts Gala, long ago renamed as SPOTLIGHT, will bring together more than 15 exciting performances -- all on one stage, at one event -- for $15.

Imagine, for one dollar each, you can see nearly every Indianapolis performing arts group including, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Dance Kaleidoscope, Gregory Hancock Dance Theater, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Brenda Williams and the Pride of Indy, the Indianapolis Children's Choir, the Indianapolis Civic Theatre, the Indianapolis Opera, Meridian Song Project, Actors Theatre of Indiana, Asia La Bouche of the Ladies of Legends, the Indiana Repertory Theatre, the Indianapolis Men's Chorus, the Phoenix Theatre, and the (Re)Collective Dance Company, along with much more!

Amazingly, and especially for this year, the Kenyetta Dance Company has created an original piece for SPOTLIGHT that is directly about HIV/AIDS and women. Never before seen, this powerful piece will deeply move you.

In addition, the exceptionally talented poet, Tasha Jones, will be returning with a new piece written specifically for this year's show.

Fifth-teen years ago, as the founding chairman of the Indiana AIDS Fund, I helped lead our board through the process of relieving David and Rob of the arduous task of organizing SPOTLIGHT by themselves each year. Subsequently, working together, David, Rob and the IAF have grown SPOTLIGHT into the largest fundraiser for HIV education in the state of Indiana. Remarkably, because of corporate underwriting, every ticket purchased goes straight toward grant-making!

This year, in honor of the Indiana AIDS Fund's 15th anniversary, tickets are $115 and $15. The $115 VIP ticket includes a pre-performance reception as well as a ticket to the now-famous AfterGlow party immediately following the performance.

And… get this!! The first terrace is already sold out! If you want a $15 seat, you'd better reserve one fast. Of course, because the money raised benefits HIV prevention, education and testing programs across the state of Indiana, I strongly encourage everyone to purchase a $115 seat. These special VIP tickets are the seats that truly make a difference, because of the grant dollars they provide. When you purchase a VIP ticket, you help make an even more massive impact on efforts to prevent the spread of HIV in our state. All proceeds from SPOTLIGHT 2010 will benefit Indiana AIDS Fund and the agencies and programs across the state that educate and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and which also serve those living with the disease.

I want to personally thank all the performers, participants, and extraordinary patrons who come together each year to make SPOTLIGHT possible. I also want to thank the board and staff of the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis and the Indiana AIDS Fund for never giving up, and for undertaking the formidable process of organizing SPOTLIGHT -- so perfectly -- every year for the last 15 years.

And finally, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the foresight and brilliant creativity of David Hochoy and Rob MacPherson, the founders of SPOTLIGHT so many years ago, who continue every year to work as hard as they can in helping to stage this remarkable event that helps so many across our state. They are my heroes!

Tickets are $15 and $115, and are on sale at the Clowes Hall box office or by calling 1-800-982-2787, at all Ticketmaster locations or TicketMastercom.

 
 
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As a former advisory board member of the National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS), in downtown Indianapolis, I was a longtime member, and worked out there daily, until building my own extensive in-home gym in 1998, after which I stopped working out at NIFS. However, I have continued to get an annual physical at NIFS every year since.

The reason is simple, the Indiana University School of Medicine maintains its Executive Health, Corporate Wellness and Prevention Program (IU Executive Health Program) at NIFS, which is widely recognized as one of finest health facilities in the nation.

Created by my friend and personal physician, Dr. Mike Busk, the program's founding medical and research director, the IU Executive Health Program helps Indiana executives maintain a high level of health while helping to prevent disease, through a one-on-one interaction with guidance and reinforcement that sets this top ranked program apart from others in the United States -- including the world famous Scripps in San Diego, and the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis. Some of Indiana's largest publicly traded companies have switched from sending their executives to San Diego or Minneapolis in favor of sending them to the IU Executive Health Program at NIFS.

Conveniently located on the IUPUI campus, within the White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, NIFS is open to the general public, and is one of the best gyms in town, as well as one of the most well respected in the nation. The IU Executive Health Program is also open to the public.

I'll be back in Indianapolis in a few weeks, in time for my 2010 annual physical, and encourage my friends and readers to consider NIFS for your fitness needs, and the IU Executive Health Program for your ongoing health and disease prevention efforts.

NIFS Quick Facts: Convenient walking distance from downtown. Located in White River Park. Daily, weekly and monthly options. Features include a 65,000-square-foot fitness center, NBA-size basketball court, 200-meter rubberized running track, extensive equipment, group fitness classes (including Les Mills, BODYPUMP and Yoga), nutritional counseling and weight loss programs. NIFS also manages 40 Corporate Fitness Centers in eight states.

Video1 Below: Dr. Michael Busk in action.

Video2 Below: Twenty-year NIFS member and former Indianapolis Mini Marathon winner talks about NIFS and his own fitness program, with lots of video inside and out.

Video3 Below: Senator Barack Obama plays a pick-up game of basketball on the NIFS court in downtown Indianapolis on the day of the Indiana primaries in 2008.