Red Dress Gala comes to The Penn Stater to raise cardiac awareness

Red will be in fashion, but there will be a definite blue and white feel for a local event to raise awareness of heart disease and support the American Heart Association.

Organizer Chris Johnson said that Saturday’s Red Dress Gala will feature a lineup of former and current NFL players, including ex-Penn Staters Tamba Hali, Derrick Williams, Anthony Adams, Jordan Hill, Devon Still and her son, Larry Johnson Jr.

The gala is sponsored by the Professional Football Players Mothers Association. Johnson, the wife of former Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr., leads the organization’s Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Region.

“It’s an ice-breaker to bring more awareness of heart disease in women to the Centre Region, and also to hype up the American Heart Association’s presence here,” Chris Johnson said.

NFL players Bryant McKinnie and Chris Baker have also committed to attend. Former Nittany Lion Jared Odrick, now with the Miami Dolphins, hopes to be in town for the event, Johnson said.

“This has been my pet project here in the Northeast,” she said. “We’ve done things in Philly. We’ve done things in Jersey. But we’ve never done anything here.”

Larry Johnson Sr. will share master-of-ceremony duties with former pupil Adams, who played with San Francisco and Chicago after leaving Penn State.

“Anthony has a little bit of a stand-up comic in him,” Chris Johnson said.

One of the featured speakers will be Gladys Bettis, mother of former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. Glady Bettis has been through open-heart surgery. Johnnie Bettis, Jerome’s father, died of a heart attack in 2006.

Denise Wayne, mother of Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, is national president and is expected to attend the State College gathering, Johnson said.

“It’s not a requirement to wear red,” Johnson said. “But all of the NFL moms will be wearing red.”

Individual tickets can be obtained for a $100 donation, while a table of 10 goes for $950. Visit for details.

The semi-formal event will include dinner, a fashion show, dancing and a silent auction featuring football memorabilia.

A VIP reception will be held from 7 to 8 p.m., with the full gala set for 8 p.m.