BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD)– The Brown Ballroom at Illinois State University was packed with more than 600 Central Illinoisians on Tuesday to raise money for the American Red Cross.

An American Red Cross news release states that hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised at the 28th Annual Evening of Stars event.

All funds go directly towards services in the region including blood donation, disaster response, and training services.

“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.

She continued, “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.”

In attendance was NFL Legend Emmitt Smith as the event’s star of the evening. On stage, Smith discussed his childhood, his sports career, and of course, his victory in Dancing with the Stars.

Others were also honored. The 2023 Gift of Life Hero award was given to Terry Kallmbah, who has donated 132 gallons of blood. She is the top blood donor in Illinois.

Sponsors for the Evening of Stars event were 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 more.