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Manning to speak for Red Cross
Manning to speak for Red Cross

BLOOMINGTON — Peyton Manning, a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts who volunteered with the American Red Cross in Louisiana, will be the keynote speaker at the American Red Cross of the Heartland's annual fundraising benefit.

The 13th Annual Evening of Stars will be 6:30 p.m. May 3 at the Doubletree Hotel Bloomington (formerly the Radisson), 10 Brickyard Drive.

"Peyton Manning is a great football player, but he is also a great person," said Al Bowman, the Illinois State University president who is co-chairman of the Evening of Stars with his wife, Linda.

Bowman noted that Manning's hurricane relief efforts alongside Red Cross volunteers in his home state of Louisiana and the work he accomplishes through his PeyBack Foundation earned him the 2005 Walter Payton National Football League Man of the Year Award.

"Peyton Manning is one of our best-known Red Cross volunteers," Lyn Hruska, the Heartland chapter executive director, said in a prepared statement. "He truly cares and uses his status as one of the most recognizable stars in the NFL to raise awareness of the work of all of our volunteers."

Evening of Stars is the Heartland chapter's largest fundraiser of the year, raising money for local disaster relief, prevention and preparedness. Tickets are $125 and are on sale.

Last year's event, with sportscaster Bob Costas as keynote speaker, attracted 650 people and raised $116,000 for Red Cross programs.

Manning, who will turn 30 on March 24, is a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player who has been named to the Associated Press NFL All-Pro First-Team for the past three seasons. Manning is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 25 or more touchdowns in eight consecutive seasons and the first to throw for 3,000 yards in each of his first eight seasons.

Last year, Manning, who was born in New Orleans, joined Red Cross volunteers after Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast.

Manning, who won athletic and academic honors while a student at the University of Tennessee, established The PeyBack Foundation in 1999. The foundation assists established programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for children at risk. Since its inception, the foundation has distributed more than $1 million to organizations in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana.

In addition to Costas, previous Evening of Stars speakers include actor Tony Randall, television personality Regis Philbin, Sen. Bob Dole, Apollo 13 astronaut Capt. James Lovell, and sportscaster Dick Vitale.

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