Harris to join star-studded NJ Hall

He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he's acknowledged as one of the greatest players in the history of one of the NFL's storied franchises, he's recognized as one of his sport's top big-game performers of all-time, and since his playing days ended he has cast himself as a superstar in the community.

And now on June 5, Franco Harris will join a dozen others to be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2011.

The Fourth Annual Red Carpet Gala Induction Ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 5 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, where Harris will be inducted along with John Travolta, Tony Bennett, Joe Theismann, Martha Stewart, Queen Latifah, former Governor Brendan Byrne, Mary Higgins Clark, Leon Hess and Bruce Willis.

Harris was enshrined in Canton for his football career, and in the North Side Hall of Fame for his tireless work to improve that Pittsburgh community. His induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame stems from being born and raised in Mount Holly, N.J., and this Hall has a most prestigious list of members.

Also in the New Jersey Hall of Fame are Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, former president Woodrow Wilson, Paul Robeson, Harriet Tubman, Vince Lombardi, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Malcolm Forbes, Althea Gibson, Walt Whitman, Meryl Streep and Yogi Berra.

The New Jersey Hall of Fame's inaugural class was inducted in 2008, and it was created to honor citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society and the world beyond. The Hall of Fame reinforces the message to children that they can and should strive for excellence in any endeavor of their choosing. By presenting significant and powerful role models and teaching young people about the voting process, the Hall of Fame is a source of learning, inspiration and hope for children.

Helping children is a cause close to Harris, and just a couple of weeks ago he was honored by the Western Pennsylvania Jewish Sports Hall of Fame at its 29th Annual Induction Ceremony and Dinner, where he was presented with the Manny Gold Humanitarian Award in recognition of his commitment to education through the Pittsburgh Promise.

The Pittsburgh Promise provides college scholarships to Pittsburgh Public School graduates who maintain a 2.5 grade point average and 90 percent attendance. The scholarship amounts are based on how long the student was enrolled in the Pittsburgh Public School system, and they then must go on to attend a Pennsylvania college or trade school.

Harris also is a long-time supporter of Special Olympics. He served as the honorary chair for the first Special Olympics Pennsylvania state Summer Games that are held annually at Penn State.

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