After such a devastating loss last week in Baltimore, there weren't any celebrations or happy faces from the Steeler faithful, just statements like we'll get 'em next time or it's only game one, they'll play better next week.
I'll admit that I was disappointed in the outcome of the game but as the week went on, I remembered something more important than wins and losses- more important than the game of football itself. I love the Steelers. I love them a whole lot. Yet, when I'm asked why I'm a Steeler fan, my response isn't just because they're a winning team. No, I love the Steelers because of the values their organization represents and the time they spend in the community.
The Steelers benefit many different charities but I am always touched by the time they give to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity very dear to me. To watch a child's eyes light up, to see their ear-to-ear grin, to know that for one day you can take away the pain of their illness or disease is the most rewarding feeling. The Steelers have worked in conjunction with Make-A-Wish to grant many wishes. Here are just a few of those stories:
Heather Miller: Heather Miller was a beautiful 10-year-old girl diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Her wish was to meet Casey Hampton. In June 2009, she was invited to a Steelers practice at the South Side facility where she got to participate in defensive line meetings and drills. In fact, her whole family was invited to take part in the day's activities. At the end of the day, Hampton lofted her on top of his shoulders in the middle of the end-of-practice huddle. Hampton and Troy Polamalu (who had befriended Heather prior to her Make-A-Wish day) continued to visit her in the hospital and stayed in touch until she passed away. Both Hampton and Polamalu attended the funeral and have maintained contact with the family.
Zach Hatfield: Zach Hatfield is a 15-year-old boy from Kentucky. He was diagnosed with leukemia in August 2009. Zach wished to announce the Steelers' first-round pick at the 2010 NFL Draft. He had the opportunity to select Maurkice Pouncey and meet up with other first-round picks like Sam Bradford backstage.
Nicholas: Nicholas wished to meet the Steelers, and they invited him to training camp in August 2010. He got to throw with Ben Roethlisberger and hang out with Hines Ward. He also ate pizza with Troy Polamalu. Additionally, he posed for pictures with Heath Miller.
In the week following a loss, it's easy to get upset and caught up in feelings of disappointment, but it's also a good time to reflect on the players beneath the pads- the men they truly are and their willingness to do something good. They care about their fans and always will.
Visit http://www.wishgreaterpa.org/ to read more inspiring stories.