OKLAHOMA CITY- The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum took on an African flavor Saturday evening.
Hundreds of Oklahomans lined up to meet Thunder players, enjoy dinner and most importantly, change lives.
"I couldn't sleep. I was so excited. It's a big night for me," said Serge Ibaka.
Several years ago, Serge Ibaka launched his own foundation. Since then, his annual gala has grown, from just a few tables to 700 guests this year.
All proceeds are invested in children back home in Congo, and here in OKC.
Just last month, Ibaka provided Christmas gifts to more than a dozen local families. Something he rarely experienced growing up in the slums of Brazzaville.
"Everything we do tonight is going to change people's lives, kid's lives," an emotional Ibaka said.
Serge has partnered with Sister Rosemary who also rescues thousands of orphans in Uganda.
She's giving them an education, and hope for a better tomorrow.
"She's one of the most important women in Africa, in the world with what she does. Working with her inspired me a lot," he said.
This year's banquet and auction raised nearly a $500,000.
Lives a half a world away are being changed because Oklahomans have embraced Serge Ibaka, and the beautiful children so close to his heart.