Vera Bradley co-founder named Mad Anthonys Red Coat winner

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The co-founder of one of Fort Wayne’s most visible companies has been named the 2021 Mad Anthonys Red Coat honoree.

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, Vera Bradley co-founder, will be honored at the Red Coat Gala on September 11. The event will be held at The Bradley, the new downtown boutique hotel Baekgaard has launched.

“We are incredibly honored and excited to recognize Barb as our Red Coat recipient this year,” Sherri Miller, president of the Mad Anthonys Foundation, said in a release. “From the basement of her home, she has helped build Vera Bradley into a global brand and amazing success story — all while giving back and strengthening the community she calls home. Her presence and participation in this year’s event will have a profound, positive impact on the support we generate for Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House.”

“Being named a Red Coat recipient ranks up there with any recognition I’ve received to date,” Baekgaard said in the same release. “It’s an honor to join the incredible list of previous recipients – and to help Mad Anthonys raise money for the Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House and enhance the services they provide families throughout our region in the process. It’s a great way to give back to a community that’s given so much to me and my family.”

Baekgaard co-founded Vera Bradley (named after her mother) in 1982 in Fort Wayne along with Pat Miller with a vision to bring a much-needed injection of design and color to the luggage market; since then, they’ve built it into a publicly traded company and internationally recognized lifestyle brand providing a broad range of women’s handbags, luggage and travel items, fashion and home accessories, and unique gifts online and in retail locations around the world.

For the first time in the event’s history, the Mad Anthonys Red Coat Gala will not be held during the Pro-Am weekend. The 64th Pro-Am will be held June 28 at Fort Wayne Country Club; Mad Anthonys moved the date of the Red Coat Dinner to Sept. 11 to coincide with the opening of The Bradley. For Red Coat Gala ticket information, visit

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