Brandon Short knows first-hand the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence.
The McKeesport native and former NFL player’s 26-year-old daughter Karli was shot and killed last September in the Christy Park section of McKeesport. She had been shot in the head and was dead at the scene. She was five months pregnant.
At a news conference at the Carnegie Library Downtown on Friday, Short struggled to put into words exactly what the last nine months have been like for his family.
But now the former Penn State Nittany Lions, New York Giants and Carolina Panthers star, along with his wife, Mahreen, is taking action.
Short, a member of the board of trustees of Penn State Greater Allegheny in McKeesport, announced a foundation that will provide financial support and mentorship to undergraduates at that campus dealing with the fallout of gun violence.
Short said The Karli Short Better Tomorrow Foundation is a way to honor his daughter’s memory.
“When my family and I searched for ways to honor Karli and support victims of gun violence, we could think of no better way than to help students achieve the American dream by supporting their education and creating a better tomorrow,” he said.
“Karli’s legacy won’t be defined by the wrong that was done to her, but by the kindness and compassion that radiated from her,” Short said. “We are honoring Karli’s magnificent spirit by lifting up those who are struggling.”
Short cited alarming statistics about gun violence in the United States.
“Unfortunately, we’re not alone in (our) pain. In 2020, over 45,000 Americans died from gun-related injuries. Black Americans are killed by homicide 10 times more often than white Americans,” he said. “This information is staggering because those aren’t numbers, those are people. They’re children, they’re parents, they’re family members, they’re friends. All lost.”
Penn State Greater Allegheny incoming Chancellor Megan Nagel said almost any student could identify with being impacted by gun violence.
“It will be up to Brandon and the committee to determine what that means for the scholarship, but I think it casts a wide net for who can be helped by this money,” she said.
The charity’s first fundraiser is a gala set for July 15 at the Omni William Penn in Pittsburgh. It will feature NFL greats Franco Harris, Mike Logan, LaVar Arrington and Curtis Martin, among others.
“I have a lot of respect and appreciation for what Brandon is doing to impact young people who have been affected by gun violence,” said Martin, an NFL Hall of Famer and Allderdice High School graduate. “The Better Tomorrow Gala is a strong first step toward that goal.”
When asked why it was important to him to reach out to kids who have been impacted by gun violence, Short said it had a lot to do with his role in education.
“It’s cathartic to be able to channel this huge hole in our hearts towards something positive,” he said. “Making something positive out of it – that’s what Karli Short would want us to do.”
Short said the timeline for when the endowment will be offered is still being worked out.
“We want to help a lot of kids, so it depends on how much money we raise,” he said.