Sports broadcaster Chris Schenkel says he's always been impressed with Haskell Indian Junior College.
"I've always been impressed with their leadership -- the presidents they've had and their board of directors," he said. "A lot of people just don't realize it's a special place."
Schenkel will be the guest of honor at the largest fund-raising effort in Haskell's history on Aug. 21 in Indianapolis.
The event, "A Salute to Chris Schenkel," is expected to bring in $200,000 or more for Haskell, a federally funded junior college for Native Americans.
The event will be held to mark Schenkel's 70th birthday and to commemorate his 52 years in broadcasting.
During an interview with the Journal-World from his Florida home on Wednesday, Schenkel said he was pleased to do all he could for Haskell.
"I hope this brings them some recognition; they need that," he said.
Schenkel, a member of the Haskell Foundation Board of Directors, has been a supporter of the school for more than 20 years. He also is an honorary chief of the Miami Indian Council of Indiana and the Sac and Fox Tribe in Oklahoma.
He said his introduction to Haskell came several years ago through Wayne Postoak, former Haskell basketball coach.
"Wayne asked me to speak and I just kept coming back," he said.
Schenkel said he first became interested in Native American culture while growing up with members of the Miami and Potawatomi tribes in Indiana.
"I was always big for the underdog," he said, noting that many Native Americans have not had as many opportunities as others in society.
"Over the years I just got involved," he said. "It's because of the (U.S. government-Native American) history. We all need to be proud of our history, and I think that is especially true for the Native American."
Schenkel said his great-grandmother was Native American.
"I can't prove it because there are no records of her, and she was ashamed of it at that time, you know," he said.
"But that's not why I do it," he said of helping the Native American community. "I don't want to be a wannabe like some other people. It's just that there are so many people who are part Native American ... I think their accomplishments should be recognized."
Schenkel said he recently had taken time off from covering the Pro Bowlers Tour after a bout with pneumonia. He said he would return to the broadcasting booth for the tour a week from Saturday.
Schenkel is a four-time recipient of the National Sportscaster of the Year Award. He has covered NFL and NCAA football, NBA basketball, the Olympics, professional golf, tennis, boxing, horse racing's Triple Crown and bowling.
Funds raised from the benefit will be used for improvements at Haskell Stadium and for the construction of the multipurpose cultural center that will house a Native American athletic hall of fame.