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‘It’s Family for Life’: Former Penn State LB Joined by Fellow Penn Staters at Gala Honoring his Late Daughter

Former Penn State LB and current trustee Brandon Short has been going through the unimaginable.

In September 2021, his daughter, Karli, just 26 and five months pregnant, was killed in a senseless act of gun violence.

Short knows this isn’t the only such act, and wants to do something about it.

That’s why, in the summer of 2022, he and his wife, Mahreen, created the Karli Short Better Tomorrow Foundation.

Friday night at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh– which is near Short’s hometown of McKeesport– marked the third annual Karli Short Better Tomorrow Foundation Gala.

This gala, hosted by TV host, comedian, actor and one of Short’s former Penn State teammates, Spice Adams, featured plenty of people from the football world, as well as the Penn State community. Athletic Director Pat Kraft was on hand, as was one of Short’s coaches at Penn State, longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. A handful of current Penn State players, such as linebackers Dom DeLuca and Tyler Elsdon, were also on hand.

A difference between 2024’s gala compared to the first two is that, this year, there were five “Better Tomorrow Scholars,” four of which were on hand at the fundraiser.

“All this is about raising money to support students who are dealing with the fallout from gun violence,” Short said. “Now that we’ve endowed five scholarships and raised a significant amount of money, we have real people who we’ve affected.”

Short, who currently serves on his alma mater’s Board of Trustees, has long seen Penn State as a family, so the outpouring of support he’s received from the PSU community is something he expected.

“Once you become a part of this, it’s family for life, and you know who’s really there for you,” Short said. “You see, really, who those people are when you’re in your darkest moments, and the Penn State community has been amazing.”

Adams is another member of the Penn State family.

A defensive tackle who went on to play nine NFL seasons, Adams and Short were teammates for the 1998 and ’99 campaigns.

“I kept the big guys up front off of him so he could make all the tackles that he did,” Adams told NSN.

Adams has been the emcee for each of the three galas and has been proud to do it each time.

“Brandon Short is like a brother to me,” Adams said. “He was a leader on our football team. He was always there for us, so it’s a no-brainer for me to be here tonight.”

Bradley, who also grew up in the Pittsburgh Area has known Short since Short was a freshman in high school.

The annual gala is an event he doesn’t miss, and he’s proud of who Brandon Short is.

“Football was great,” Bradley said. “But he’s making an even bigger impact after football.

When Short and Adams were at Penn State, a linebacker from Illinois was playing at Indiana.

Unlike Short and Adams, his football career didn’t take him to the NFL, so he ended up getting into the world of athletic administration.

That journey led him to become an athletic director at Temple, then Boston College and now Penn State.

For Kraft, Friday night “speaks to what Penn State’s about.”

“There’s so many, not just former players, but people here from the community that are supporting him (Brandon Short), and I think we’re here to not only be here for him but also support him in any way we can. So I’m very happy to be able to be a small part of that,” Kraft said.

For Kraft, being able to communicate with Short through his role on the Board of Trustees has been invaluable.

“For me to be able to be around our players,” Krat said, “and there’s a bunch of former players that are here. I think there’s a kinship between the football players. We’ve just kind of been through the same thing. No matter what helmet you put on, you go through the same life, right? Blood, sweat and tears in that locker room, and I think there’s something special about that. Brandon has been amazing support for me, just trying to understand the world that we’re in and walking into Happy Valley and doing the best that I can to provide for our athletes.”

“Brandon has been amazing support for me, just trying to understand the world that we’re in and walking into Happy Valley and doing the best that I can to provide for our athletes. As a trustee, I think he’s a great leader. I think he understands where the University needs to go, so I feel very fortunate to have him as a sounding board. So I consider him a really good friend, and I think it’s really good to have someone like that to bounce things off of like many of our trustees, and many of our former players because they’ve lived it. It’s a lot, and it’s a special thing to have played football here at our place and to be successful not only on the gridiron but professionally as well.”

So above all else, what did Short want the main takeaway from this event to be?

“That they recognize that there’s an issue,” Short said. “Gun violence is rampant across the country, and that we’re not helpless in addressing gun violence.

“People are dealing with that trauma, and we’re here to support those people who are dealing with trauma.”

Short wants people to remember his daughter for “how she always tried to make everyone around her better.

“When she saw you were sad, she tried to lift you up,” he said. “If she saw you were down, she did everything she could to try to bring life to others. Hopefully we’re carrying on her legacy in that manner by raising scholarships for students affected by gun violence.”

“That was his baby,” Adams said. “I have three daughters of my own. The kids, they’re the apple of your eye. His daughter, that was his pride and joy. So he just wants to honor her by us being here, having fun and raising money for gun violence and kids that are less fortunate.”

The Karli Short Better Tomorrow Foundation was established in the wake of a tragedy.

With that said, Adams felt Short’s goal was for Friday to be a “celebration.”

“She was fun-loving, always laughing from what I know,” Adams said. “I know, while I host this event, B-Short wants this to be a celebration. He wants a celebration of her life, and so, he doesn’t want people to be around here sad and things like that. He wants us to dance afterward because he knows that’s what Karli would want.”











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