More than 600 community members from across central Illinois came together in the Brown Ballroom at Illinois State University raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American Red Cross at the 28th Annual Evening of Stars Tuesday night.
All of the funds raised go directly towards providing critical services throughout the region, including disaster response, blood donation, training services and support to our military members and their families.
“We look forward to this evening all year long and love hosting this community gathering,” said Lyn Hruska, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Serving Central Illinois. “We are so appreciative of the central Illinois community for giving generously to the Red Cross, and the Red Cross cannot do our work without their support.”
NFL Legend Emmitt Smith was the event’s star for the evening. Smith is in the NFL Hall of Fame as a three-time champion with the Dallas Cowboys and the league’s all-time career rushing leader. In a moderated discussion, Smith took the stage to discuss everything from his childhood to success on the gridiron and winning the coveted mirror ball trophy in the third season of Dancing with the Stars.
Emmitt specifically talked a lot about his competitive spirit – in all aspects of his career. He revered Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton, who at the time had the record for most rushing yards during his 13 years in the NFL. It was Emmitt’s goal to beat that, which he did. He also said Jerry Rice winning Dancing with the Stars in Season 2 was his motivation to go on the next season and win, which he also accomplished.
Several central Illinois heroes were also honored at the event. The 2023 Gift of Life Hero Award was presented to Terry Kallmbah. Terry has donated 132 gallons of blood, making her the top blood donor in the state of Illinois!
The 2023 Lifesaving Heroes are Dan Cotton and Mark Paul. This summer, while working at State Farm, Dan and Mark jumped into action administering CPR and using an AED to help save the life of Roger Wolf, who had collapsed during a staff meeting at State Farm Headquarters in Bloomington.
The event would not have been possible without the support of our amazing sponsors including, State Farm®, Wilber Group, Ernst & Young LLP, The Pantagraph, Caterpillar Inc., Jack Lewis Jewelers, LLC, OSF Healthcare, Cumulus Radio Bloomington, WGLT, Bloomington-Normal’s Public Media, Illinois Farm Bureau, Rena and Brian Weyrauch, Cindy Moore, KSA Lighting & Controls, and O'Brien Mitsubishi - Normal and many more.
The Red Cross is grateful for the continued support of the central Illinois community in making Evening of Stars a success for the past 28 years.
About the American Red Cross of Illinois
The American Red Cross of Illinois serves 12.4 million people in 88 counties in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri including Adams, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cook, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, De Witt, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Green, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jasper, Jefferson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Putnam, Richland, Rock Island, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Vermillion, Warren, Washington, Whiteside, Will, Williamson Winnebago, Woodford. Iowa: Lee, Muscatine, Scott and Van Buren. Missouri: Clark, Lewis, Marion and Ralls. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit us at Redcross.org/Illinois or visit us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @RedCrossIL.