Former NBA player to speak at Prairie Center event

Former NBA player to speak at Prairie Center event

CHAMPAIGN — The Prairie Center, the local non-profit substance-abuse prevention and treatment provider, will host former NBA basketball player Chris Herren at its stakeholder dinner next month.

Tickets are $75 for one person or $100 per couple.

Herren, who played for the Boston Celtics but lost his career to addiction, has been drug-free and alcohol-free since Aug. 1, 2008, according to The Herren Project website. The Herren Project is a non-profit foundation he established to help people struggling with addictions.

J. Steven Main, marketing director for the Prairie Center, said the ticket price is helping pay for Herren to speak at the dinner and also on the following day to 2,100 students, teachers and administrators from area high schools at Champaign Central High School.

"We've got people who are buying not just one table (at the dinner) but giving us extra money and we've made those tables available to some of the high schools so athletic directors and trainers can come and hear Chris speak," Main said.

Herren is being brought to the community because he wants to reach youth, Main said.

"Here is an example of somebody who was on top of the world, lost everything, and recovered and worked his way back and has set up a foundation to communicate with youth to help others," he said.

The dinner will include an update from a committee that has been working on delivering a new model behavioral health system for the local community — one able to treat "co-occurring" conditions of substance abuse and mental health disorders, Main said.

The Prairie Center treats substance abuse, but nearly three-quarters of the people who seek treatment through this organization also have mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression, according to Prairie Center Chief Executive Bruce Suardini.

The committee is working on a behavioral health partnership that will include medical and social service providers, according to Main.

Tickets for the dinner, to be held Dec. 12 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Champaign, are available by contacting Main.

He can be reached by email at or by phone at 693-3050.