Fanfare: Jerome Bettis returns to Pittsburgh and draws sold out crowd for gala fundraiser
This was their guy. Jerome Bettis. The Bus. The guy who retired in 2005 while hoisting a Super Bowl trophy. The Pro Football Hall of Famer. The former Steeler who still parts the waters when he comes back to Pittsburgh. “I'm very proud to call him a Steeler,” said Steelers president Art Rooney II during The Bus Stops Here Foundation's Caring for Kids Gala. “He's someone that's used the platform he has to make other people's lives better.”
Three hundred people agreed. Selling out the event four weeks in advance. Showing up at the PNC Champion's Club at Heinz Field on October 12. Just to see their guy.
“He's a leader,” said KDKA's Bob Pompeani. “Not only as a football player but also as a person who always has time to give back.”
Also on the receiving end of some adoration were the evening's honorees, Hillman Cancer Center chairman Dr. Stanley Marks and Steelers running back James Conner. Dr. Marks served as Conner's physician when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2015 while a junior at the University of Pittsburgh.
“He's the reason why I'm here today,” Conner said.
While DJ Bonics hit the turntables inside, VIPs and sponsors huddled in the tunnels, waiting for their names to be called so that they could hit the field under a cloud of theatrical fog. By the time they emerged, Jerome Bettis—their guy—was waiting to greet them.
“This city has been committed to me. If I can shine a light and do whatever I can to help the community, that's what it's all about,” he said.
On the list: Bettis' wife, Trameka and their kids Jada and Jerome, Jr., his mom Gladys Bettis, aunt Gloria Bettis, and brother John Bettis, Charlie and Latasha Batch, Arthur and Shonda Moats, Joey Porter (who also served as auctioneer), Anthony Chickillo.