The Roethlisberger family, along with Pittsburgh Steelers veteran quarterback, Ben, hosted the first annual ‘Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’ fundraiser Sunday at Jergel’s Rhythm Grill in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, Sunday night. The fundraiser benefited the Make-A-Wish foundation and dogs for K-9 police units and fire rescue dogs.
According to a report by Teresa Varley on Steelers.com, father Ken Roethlisberger, who runs Ben’s foundation said, “We tried to keep it small at first…so many people wanted to help and be a part of it.” He said that the idea began when the foundation started providing dogs in the Roethlisbergers’ hometown of Findley, Ohio, after one police dog was killed. According to Ben’s father, the fact that the dog was killed touched his son’s heart so much that he wanted to make a difference. He began providing funding and dogs in order to aid police officers and fire departments in doing their heroic work.
In 2011, Roethlisberger’s foundation supplied Montgomery County, Texas, with a grant to provide bullet-proof vests to police dogs that are used to detect bombs and who held officers on patrols.
Roethlisberger has been a huge champion to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and decided the the foundation bearing his name should expand to include honoring those who serve the community, including police officers and firefighters.
Roethlisberger couldn’t help but smile when he said, “I love the kids. I don’t think that is a secret. For them to have a wish to hang out with me and to be able to grant that is awesome.”
Recently, Roethlisberger received news of a fan, Julia Pollack, had endured a 52-day stay in a hospital fighting cancer. Pollack, who is 38 years old, battled breast cancer in 2010 only to find out that her war was not over. The cancer had spread. Roethlisberger sent her a surprise video message to encourage her.
Pollack was so encouraged by Ben’s unselfish act that she wrote back to him to let him know that she needed to fight and have courage. A Colorado native, Pollack has returned home to be with her family, but continues to remain encouraged, according to her message. She compared her battle with that of the Steelers’ yearly rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens.
The foundation event included a live auction and a silent auction in order to collect proceeds to further Roethlisberger’s goal of providing aid to others. Jergel’s was filled with music by the band Flashback Heart Attack and plenty of fun.
Roethlisberger’s main message was that in the nine years he has played for the Steelers, he has loved his involvement with the community. He said, “It’s home to me now. To be able to reach out and do something like this…is great.”
According to Roethlisberger’s website, teammates Brett Keisel, Heath Miller, Charlie Batch and James Harrison were in attendance, as was former Steelers running back and ESPN analyst Merril Hoge.
For more information on the event, please visit Steelers.com to read Teresa Varley’s account of the event and visit BigBen7.com to read news releases about Ben’s charitable activities.
A thank you to Erin Cox for her hard work.
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