Ben is active in the community whether it’s the middle of football season or during the off-season. Click on the links below to see just a few of the activities, foundations, and charities he is involved in:
November 30, 2018 – Steelers make another wish come true
From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com:
Brody Kleitsch couldn’t stop smiling. And it was easy to understand why.
Kleitsch, a 12-year old from Fairbank, Iowa, was the guest of Steelers a the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for practice on Friday through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, getting to see all of his favorite players up close and personal.
Kleitsch, who has osteosarcoma, especially lit up when he saw his favorite player Ben Roethlisberger.
“The Steelers have been my favorite team forever,” said Kleitsch. “Football is my favorite sport. A lot of my friends, aunt and uncles like the Steelers. That is how I started to like them.
“Today when I saw them, it’s super cool.”
He and his family will also attend Sunday night’s game against the Chargers at Heinz Field, an experience he is looking forward to as it’s his first NFL game ever.
“I am really excited,” said Kleitsch. “I can’t wait to see everyone in person.”
You can see more great photos from Brody’s day here.
On October 26, 2018 – Making a wish come true
From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com:
Friday was a day filled with smiles for Gabe Patton, a 16-year old from Vinton, Virginia who loves the Steelers.
Patton was a guest of the team at practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
He will also be at Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.
“I love the Steelers,” said Patton. “I have never been to an NFL game before. I have been to a few college games. I am really excited. It should be loud and a lot of fun.”
Patton, who is battling cancer, had the opportunity to meet his favorite players, including Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, while getting pictures and autographs.
“It’s crazy being here,” said Patton. “It’s surprising. It’s kind of crazy to see myself doing this. This is a big confidence boost. It gets all of the bad stuff out of my mind. It’s nice to do something fun that I never thought I would do.”
You can see more great photos of Gabe’s day here.
October 19, 2018: Big Ben’s dogs are everywhere, serving police partners & communities
From Kevin Kirkland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A Steelers quarterback never expects a friendly reception in Baltimore, even when he’s on vacation.
“He walked up to me and said, ‘I’m a K9 officer and I have one of your dogs. I just wanted to say how much it meant to me,” Ben Roethlisberger recalled.
In the 11 years since the Findlay, Ohio, native bought a police dog for his hometown, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation (https://bigben7.com/the-ben-roethlisberger-foundation) has purchased and paid to train 130 German shepherds and Belgian malinois for police departments in Western Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland and many other communities not in the AFC North Division.
Ben’s dogs are everywhere.
People who wouldn’t think of rooting for a Pittsburgh team cheer Mr. Roethlisberger’s charitable mission. And local K9 officers, well, they don’t hide their gratitude for the man who’s given them some of the best partners they’ve ever had.
Pittsburgh Police K9 Officer Philip Lerza gets to thank Big Ben for Beny whenever the handler and his dog work the players’ entrance at Heinz Field before Steelers home games. The foundation paid for the 75-pound-German shepherd-Malinois mix in February 2014 after Rocco, Officer Lerza’s previous partner, was killed on duty.
“Staying busy with Beny helped me get through it. It helped my whole family,” Officer Lerza said.
That’s because police dogs go home with their partners, but never really go off duty.
Jango, Larry & Rico
In May, Sharpsburg Police K9 Officer Jeffrey Hussar watched proudly as his partner, Jango, the borough’s first police dog, was sworn in. A grant from the Roethlisberger foundation plus local donations paid for the 2-year-old German shepherd, his training and a vehicle.
“He’s very good with his nose,” said Officer Hussar, who uses Jango for drug sniffing and patrol work. Last Saturday, they responded to a fight at a Sharpsburg home that escalated into a standoff between police and a man with a knife. Jessie Lee Glover, 39, allegedly threatened to kill police and the dog. Officer Hussar said he removed Jango when the suspect fled into the house.
“I was worried about our safety and the dog’s safety,” he said.
Mr. Glover was later removed from the house by a SWAT team and charged with eight felonies.
In nearby Ohio Township, K9 Officer Eric Wallace has his own little family of police dogs — 11-year-old Rico, who retired in July, and 17-month-old Larry, his partner since early September. Larry, a German shepherd bred in the Czech Republic and funded by the Roethlisberger foundation, runs to the door when he sees his partner putting on his uniform. “He jumps three times like he’s on a springboard,” Officer Wallace said.
On the job, this drug sniffer is “precise and methodical.” But once he gets home, the puppy in him erupts once more. Larry romps with Rico and Bruno, a standard poodle that belongs to Officer Wallace’s girlfriend, Sarah Bergman.
Both police dogs enjoy the occasional “blueberry facial” and nail trim at Ms. Bergman’s Doggie Do’s Hair Salon. One day, when Officer Wallace and Larry dropped in to visit, Ashley Roethlisberger, Ben’s wife, was picking up one of their dogs after grooming. She was delighted to learn Larry is one of Ben’s dogs.
“She said, ‘We don’t get to meet them very often,’” Officer Wallace said.
Dogs run in the family
Mr. Roethlisberger credits his father, Ken, for his lifelong love of dogs. Tucked in a family album is a picture of Baby Ben with Brandy, the family’s golden retriever. Dogs were more than just pets; father and son used them to hunt quail, pheasant and ducks in Western Ohio.
Today, Ben and Ashley Roethlisberger and their three children live with two dogs: Remy the vizsla and Kota, a German shepherd. Ken and Brenda Roethlisberger, who live in Beaver County, have a coonhound named Hank and Sam, a golden retriever. They lost Harley, an 8-year-old Rottweiler, this summer.
“I usually keep his dogs when they’re out of town and he takes ours,” Ken Roethlisberger said.
You can read Mr. Kirkland’s full story on Ben & his foundation here.
Photo: Ken and Ben with Hank, Sam, Remy & Kota (taken by Brenda Roethlisberger).
October 5, 2018: The Roethlisbergers ROCK Steelers Style!
September 3, 2018: Two special gifts for two special people –
After airing a story on ABC 6 News of a Mayo Clinic surgeon giving his signed Ben Roethlisberger football to a teenager with a rare, degenerative condition, Ben Roethlisberger reached out to tell us the signature was fake. What came next was remarkable!! — Hannah Tiede, ABC News- Rochester, Minnesota.
(ABC 6 News) — One of the best quarterbacks in the NFL is recognizing a Mayo Clinic surgeon and patient.
It’s a story you’ll only see on ABC 6 news…one that started with an incredible act of kindness.
“Seth has a very rare autoimmune disease that is killing all of his healthy cells and tissues,” said Julie Bayles. “Basically its progressive degenerative; it is choosing which organ system it wants to attack next.”
For the past 11 years, Julie has been taking her son, Seth Bayles, to Mayo Clinic for specialized treatment. It’s quite the trip, considering they live in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“It’s worth the 600-mile drive,” said Julie. “We feel like we are the only patient they have at the time.”
Nothing could be truer after a complication with Seth’s feeding tube. It was at an emergency visit on August 8th, where Seth met Patrick Quandt.
“I had an immediate connection as soon as we walked in the room,” said Quandt, a Registered Nurse at Mayo Clinic.
The two found they share something in common.
“Once you’re a Steelers fan, you’re always a Steelers fan,” said Seth.
“I showed him the tattoo on my arm,” said Quandt. “Immediately, knew that my good friend Doctor John Stulak would really appreciate the chance to meet Seth.”
“Steeler Nation is all about family and so when one member of the family is in the hospital, then all of the family members flock,” said Dr. Stulak, a Cardiac Surgeon at Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Stulak knew right away he wouldn’t be visiting Seth empty-handed. He gave Seth what he thought was a signed Ben Roethlisberger (A.K.A. “Big Ben”) football.
“Nine years I have had that football,” said Dr. Stulak. “It was a gift from my brother, George. I gave it to him [Seth] without asking him [George] and by the time I told George I gave away his gift, he had already seen the story on Facebook.”
The story also caught the attention of Roethlisberger’s social media & website manager. She showed our feature story to Roethlisberger, who confirmed it was not his signature. Cox reached out to an ABC 6 News reporter.
“I felt bad for George because he bought that as a gift for me,” said Dr. Stulak. “He is a big sports collector and I knew instantly he was going to be upset with himself because he prides himself on doing the research and looking at the letter of authenticity.”
However, the revelation set in motion a surprise.
On Friday, Julie (with help from Mayo Clinic staff) arranged to meet Dr. Stulak. She showed Seth, Quandt and Dr. Stulak a video message from Roethlisberger:
“Hey, Seth. Hey Doctor Stu. Ben Roethlisberger here, sitting in our practice locker room getting ready to go out for practice. I wanted to shoot you a quick note to say ‘Thank You for being Steelers fans’. I appreciate your guy’s support. I saw your video online. Doctor Stu, how you gave the football to Seth, I thought that was really, really cool. But something kind of caught me off guard; that the autograph wasn’t mine.
So I just wanted to send you a video just to let you know that I appreciate you guy’s support. And Seth why don’t you check with your mom? She might have something for you … and you too, Doc. And Doc, thanks for all you do. You’re a true hero. Seth, keep up the good fight brother. Pulling for you, praying for you and thanks for your support. Alright pal, talk to you later.”
After the video, Julie uncovered two signed Roethlisberger footballs.
The first was signed “Seth – You are the MAN!”
The second was signed “Dr. Stulak you are a real hero!”
“This is unbelievable,” said Seth. “It is just awesome! Yeah, I can’t begin to tell you how amazing and cool this is.”
“When it [the video] started playing, just to hear him say our names … that’s really something special,” said Dr. Stulak. “He [Roethlisberger] has brought us world championships, he brought us a lot of happiness to a very depressed area.”
Dr. Stulak still says Seth is the hero, not him.
“He is fighting a real fight. One for his life, one for his quality of life,” said Dr. Stulak. “But what he doesn’t realize is … through his battle, he inspires millions more than I could ever inspire.”
When asked what will happen if another Steelers fan visits the hospital, Dr. Stulak joked “I will be very conflicted whether or not to give him this ball. Maybe I’ll buy him a refrigerator magnet or something like that.”
Dr. Stulak, Julie and Seth want to extend a huge ‘Thank You’ to Roethlisberger and Cox.
June 10, 2018: The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Charity Celebrity Softball Game –
Ben held his first charity softball game on a cloudy Sunday in his hometown of Findlay, Ohio. The event sold out quickly – all 2,000 tickets at $10 a piece. Proceeds from the game benefited the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and the Findlay High School Athletics Department. To say that everyone, including Ben and his teammates had a good time, would be an understatement!
It’s awesome. This is for a good cause. All the proceeds raised, we’re splitting them 50-50 for Findlay High School and for my foundation. To date my foundation has given almost $2 million to canine search and rescue. We’re excited to be able to give back to Findlay. The support is really awesome. It feels really good. My family all drove over and my family in Lima and in Michigan are here.” — Ben.
“It was great to see the smile on Wyatt’s face and have his family at practice through OperationOnceInALifetime.com. Wyatt’s father is a former heroic Navy Seal who served his country and tragically lost his life.” — Teresa Varley, Steelers.
“Thank you so much for the great experience for Wyatt! We miss Devon so much, yet today he is smiling down. WYATT is beyond elated in this lifetime experience. Our family is life long steelers fans. Operationonceinalifetime!” — Brett Grube, Wyatt’s uncle.
Big Shout-Out to Chris and Gary for making the amazing sign on our field in Findlay!! Thanks guys, great work! — Ben.
April 22th, 2017 – Findlay youth football facility renamed Roethlisberger Field:
Youth football teams from Findlay and the surrounding area will have a top of the line facility where they can compete this fall, with the dedication Saturday of Ben Roethlisberger Field at Marathon Stadium.
Located at The Cube on the north edge of Findlay, adjacent to a complex that includes facilities for baseball, softball and hockey, as well as the Miracle Field, the new facility was a collaborative effort by former Findlay High quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger and Marathon Petroleum Corp. Roethlisberger, in Findlay for induction into the Hancock Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, was on hand to dedicate the field that bears his name.
“Marathon Petroleum Corporation is proud to have partnered with Ben Roethlisberger in the creation of the Findlay Youth Football Facility,” Paul Smith, manager of administrative services at Marathon, said during Saturday’s dedication.
“As a company, we believe strongly in giving back to the communities where we have the privilege to operate. Roethlisberger Field will impact generations of youth football players in Findlay and Hancock County for years to come.”
“The Findlay Youth Football facility would not have been possible without the financial support from Ben Roethlisberger and Marathon Petroleum Corp.,” said Bill Gilley, board president of Findlay Youth Football.
“This youth football facility has been many years in the making. Many people have been involved and have given a lot to make Roethlisberger Field the premier youth football facility that it is. Roethlisberger Field provides a place for over 200 Findlay youth, from grades three through eight, and teams from the surrounding area, to play football.”
(From the Findlay Courier).
Ben was honored by Jerome Bettis on September 19, 2015 –
“It is great to see him involved in his charity and doing great things in the community. The one thing I wanted to instill in all of those guys when I was there was it was about the community. They do so much for us that it was important and imperative that we do things and give back to the community.” — Jerome
“To me Jerome is a hero, a guy I tried to idolize on the football field, in the community. To be honored by him means a lot to me. It means a lot to me to be so involved in the community. Doing the grants for the dogs, giving over a million dollars to police, fire, search and rescue is something that is important to me. And the Make-a-Wish visits every game are so special. Then we get the letters talking about the wishes we provide through grants and it means a lot and is special in your heart.” — Ben
From Teresa Varley at Steelers.com:
As he was thanking his teammates during his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech, Jerome Bettis called out Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“Brother, without you saving that tackle, I still might be on the doorsteps, brother,” said Bettis, referring to a touchdown saving tackle Roethlisberger made after Bettis fumbled against the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs during the Super Bowl XL season. “I owe you for life.”
And on Friday night, Bettis once again called out Roethlisberger, but this time for something different. This time for the work Roethlisberger does in the community.
Bettis honored his former quarterback by presenting Roethlisberger with the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year Award at the Caring for Kids Dinner benefitting Bettis’ “Bus Stops Here” Foundation at the Fairmont Pittsburgh.
“It’s great to honor a person I have seen grow up,” said Bettis. “I have seen the guy go from rookie to seasoned veteran, but I have also seen him go from a young, young man, to a husband and father.
“This is really special to get a chance to honor Ben. Not to mention that he did help me on a play or two so to be able to honor Ben is a huge honor for me as well.”
Roethlisberger started his own foundation, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, in 2007. Since then it has provided grants for law enforcement agencies or fire departments in the Pittsburgh area, as well as in the cities where the Steelers play, to be used for the K9 units, bomb sniffing dogs or rescue dogs. Roethlisberger also works closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, not only by spending time with wish recipients, but also providing funding that helps make the wishes possible.
You can see more photos from the evening here and here.
October 27, 2014 – “Roethlisberger gives back in a big way”
“I want to thank Ben and Ashley for their support of Miami Athletics. This gift continues our vision to make a difference in the lives of our student-athletes and that includes winning MAC Championships. I am thankful that both Ben and Ashley share in that same vision.” — Miami Athletics Director David Sayler.
From the Miami Redhawks website:
Miami University, which has been graduating champions since 1809, took a major step forward on Monday (Oct. 27), with the announcement that Ben Roethlisberger, a 2012 graduate and two-time Super Bowl Champion (2005, 2008) with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has made a commitment to Miami Athletics.
He and his wife Ashley have agreed to donate $1 million towards the Indoor Sports Center.
“This gift is a huge thank you to everything, on and off the field, that Miami University provided me,” said Roethlisberger. “Attending Miami was one of the best decisions of my life and I am happy to play a small part in helping to rebuild this football program.”
The Indoor Sports Center, which is expected to be completed in January, will feature a full-length 120-yard playing surface that will be called “Ben Roethlisberger Field.” The Indoor Sports Center will positively impact all 19 of Miami’s sports programs and allow teams to train year-round.
In his time at Miami, Roethlisberger completed 854-of-1,304 pass attempts for 10,829 yards and 84 touchdowns from 2001-03. His junior campaign was one for the ages, throwing for 4,486 yards and 37 touchdowns, leading Miami to 12-consecutive wins, including a Mid-American Conference Championship and GMAC Bowl victory. That season alone, he captured third-team All-America honors and was just the third player in Miami history to garner the Vern Smith Award as the Mid-American Conference Most Valuable Player.
Roethlisberger to this day still ranks first in Miami history in completion percentage (.655) and touchdowns, and is second in pass attempts, completions, yards and total offense (11,075).
That vision, spoken about by Athletics Director David Saler, includes improving facilities across the board at Miami. Earlier this season Millett Hall got a face-lift with the addition of red seats and improved lighting. The new weight and conditioning room inside Goggin Ice Center was completed prior to the start of the hockey season. The Legacy Project at Hayden Park is currently underway. Improvements there include locker rooms, offices for the coaching staff and training equipment.
You can read more here.
The 2013 Ben Roethlisberger Football Camp
“Camp of a Lifetime” from Akasha Brandt & Larissa Dudkiewicz, Editor, Robinson-Moon Patch:
The two-day camp, organized by ProCamps Worldwide and sponsored by Giant Eagle and Fifth Third Bank, was the sixth annual Ben Roethlisberger football camp and the third hosted at Seneca Valley High School.
The whistles of 50 local football coaches blared above the noise of the excited children, whose ages ranged from 7-14. The Raiders’ Stadium was chaotic as the campers, outfitted in their matching white t-shirts, ran between stations to learn different football skills.
Roethlisberger roamed from group to group coaching them one-on-one, hopping on his blue Schwinn bicycle to ride between the two fields.
The players, at one point, sat mesmerized as Steelers head Coach Mike Tomlin gave them a “life lessons” pep talk.
But it wasn’t all work and no play — some campers danced to a DJ’s music, rolled around on the turf or made goofy faces for the news cameras.
Roethlisberger did stop to have some fun of his own.
He pranked campers by spraying them with a water bottle and hiding behind a group of coaches. When the campers caught sight of the quarterback they shouted, “Ben!” and dissolved into giggles.
You can read more here.
You can read many testimonials from parents & grandparents here, here, here (Day 1) & here (Day 2). Photos from the Camp can be found here.
The 2013 Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Invitational
The tournament took place on Monday, June 4, 2013 at the beautiful Sewickley Heights Golf Club.
Well over 100 golfers, including teammate Brett Keisel and ESPN’s Merril Hoge, joined Ben on the course for a full day of golf and games to benefit his Foundation.
Proceeds from the Invitational benefit police and fire agencies throughout the country with K-9′s and rescue dogs, and Make-A-Wish.
Pre-tournament competitions, which included games such as the Quarterback Challenge, Football Drive, Hat Trick, Three Point Shootout, Roulette Golf, Blackjack, and a $5,000 Putt Challenge, and a $1 million dollar Shootout (165 yard shot) got the day started, and during the tournament golfers had the opportunity to try their hand at other competitions along the course, including Poker & Roulette Golf, a Men’s and Women’s Long Drive, the Straight Drive, and a TPC Sawgrass “Island Green” hole on the 17th.
Sponsors for the tournament included Apollo Jets; King Street Grille; PNC Bank; Cisco/Presidio and Summit Golf Brands – the company behind three of the golf industry’s leading brands: Fairway & Greene, EP Pro, and Zero Restriction.
You can see photos from the Invitational here!
The Second Annual Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Fundraiser
The Second Annual Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Fundraiser rocked the house on Sunday, June 3, 2013 at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, which raised close to $50,000 which will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia, as well as K-9 Police and Fire Units across the country.
“It means a lot to me. We are in such an awesome spot. I have such an opportunity to give back to the community I call home. Pittsburgh is home to me. I love doing things for the community, for the kids, for people, just helping out. This is a small thing I feel I can do to help.” – Ben
The fundraising event was a tremendous success thanks to the local community – 268 people came out to enjoy the “strolling dinner”, music performed by The American Flyers Show Band, and to participate in both the Live and Silent Auctions!
Many teammates were on hand giving their full support, including Heath Miller, Maurkice Pouncey, Brett Keisel, Kelvin Beachum, Landry Jones, offensive line coach Jack Bicknell and former Steelers running back Merril Hoge.
Ben’s Foundation began by providing K-9 grants to police and fire departments in the Pittsburgh area, as well as cities where the Steelers play. To date the foundation has funded the purchase of 66 dogs, in addition to the training of dogs and handlers, and the purchase of safety equipment.
His passion for granting wishes through Make-A-Wish gave him the idea to expand the work of his foundation, raising funds to help grant wishes as well.
“If I can make a wish come true for them and give them one day of being happy, it means a lot to me.”
Last year alone he helped grant 14 wishes, while raising $25,000 to fund wishes, a unique combination not often seen.
“When you see the kids when Ben comes across the field and calls out their name, and starts joking with them and interacting, that is so meaningful,” said Leigh Ann Lubarsky, the manager of program services at Make-A-Wish. “But we can’t grant the wishes without the funds to support. Both mean so much. It seems so effortless by him to do all of this.”
*Thank you to Teresa Varley, Steelers.com
You can see more photos from the event here.
On October 26, 2012: Giving back
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation donated $25,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation! That money will allow Make-A-Wish to grant wishes to six children!
Ben presented the check to Judith Stone (pictured), President and CEO of Make-A-Wish during an impromptu press conference this afternoon after practice.
The money was raised during The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Invitational Golf Tournament in July.
For the past several years, Ben has devoted his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of his passion to help children.
“It’s no secret how much the kids mean to me. When someone has a wish and they want to spend it with the Steelers that touches you and is special. For us to be able to do this and be able to have six kid’s wishes come true is awesome. Being there to meet them, shake their hand, sign an autograph means a lot to me.” — Ben.
One of the most memorable of these Make-A-Wish moments was when he met 14-year old Akeem Havens, who signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in May of 2008 (scroll down the page to see the story and video) to become one of Ben’s go-to wide receivers for the day!
You can watch video of Ben’s press conference today here.
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Sabrina
Sabrina Briley might live deep in the heart of Texas, but the 16-year old from El Paso loves the Steelers and on October 26, 2012, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation she had a chance to meet some of her favorite Steelers’ players – including Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger.
After the team’s practice the players took time to visit with her, sign autographs and pose for pictures, bringing a huge smile that might not go away for a long time.
“Every since I was little I liked the Steelers,” said Briley, who learned her wish was granted courtesy of a video from Roethlisberger.
From an article by Teresa Varley, Steelers.com
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Alex
But Wagner had good reason for being that way. What kid wouldn’t be smiling if they were a guest at Steelers’ practice and getting ready to meet the team?
Wagner, who has hypothalmic disorder, was at practice courtesy of the team and Make-A-Wish Foundation and will attend Sunday’s game against the Eagles at Heinz Field.
“There is nothing as cool as getting this close to them,” said Wagner. “It’s hard to explain. It’s hard to believe. I never expected this at all, not even a little bit. I never thought I would be able to do anything like this, but apparently it can happen.”
When practice ended, things got even better as the players all made their way over to Wagner, talking to him, posing for pictures and signing autographs. Ben Roethlisberger took him into the locker room, and then off to his production meeting with Fox Sports where he met Troy Aikman, who is in town for the game.
“Alex loves football,” said his mom Terry Wagner. “He can’t play because of his medical condition, but he loves it more than anything in the world. This is his dream come true. It makes us so happy to see him like this.
“Since we knew this was happening, he has never been happier. He is a serious kid and this has brought the joy out of him.” — From an article by Teresa Varley, Steelers.com
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Christopher
On August 18, 2012 as 13-year old Christopher Naegeli watched the Steelers morning practice at training camp, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger came behind him, then knelt down beside him and started talking football.
The teenager who a few minutes earlier was joking with his mom and sister, got quiet and shy, meeting his hero for the first time. But after a few minutes Naegeli, who has spina bifida and came to camp through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, warmed up not just to Roethlisberger but also to Coach Mike Tomlin, and the rest of the players who came over to meet him, sign his football and joke around.
“It means a lot,” said his mother, Barbara Naegeli. “This is something he normally wouldn’t ever get to do. He likes watching football, but because of his wheelchair he will never be able to play. It’s great for him to get up close with the players.”
And it was easy to see the players, including Roethlisberger whose foundation helps the Make-A-Wish Foundation, loved it as well.
“I think it’s awesome the players like to do it and love spending time with the kids,” said Naegeli. — From an article by Teresa Varley, Steelers.com.
The 2012 Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Invitational
“On behalf of The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, I would like to personally thank all of our sponsors and participants for their generous contributions!” – Ben
On July 9th, 2012, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Invitational took place at Sewickley Heights Golf Club in Sewickley, PA. It was Ben’s first charity golf event.
In 2011, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation granted $46,000 to police and fire departments in the Pittsburgh area, and another $77,000 around the country for a total of $123,000.
A total of 112 golfers participated in the tournament with 27 companies and corporations sponsoring the event, including Apollo Jets, Patriot Homes Corporation, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PNC, #1 Cochran, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The golfers had a great time with the pre-tournament competitions, which included the Chip Shot Challenge, a Super Bowl XLIII Challenge (throwing the football through the hands of a cardboard Santonio Holmes), Shuffleboard Golf, a “Big Shot” Challenge (driving your way through the AFC North), a $5,000 Putt Challenge, and a $1 million dollar Shootout (165 yard shot). During the tournament, golfers had the opportunity to try their hand at other competitions along the course, including Poker & Roulette Golf, a Men’s and Women’s Long Drive, the Straight Drive, a “Coffin Corner” on the 9th hole, and a TPC Sawgrass “Island Green” hole on the 17th.
The weather was perfect for a patio lunch buffet provided by the Sewickley Golf Club – sunny and 85 degrees with a slight breeze. Late in the afternoon, after 18 holes of golf, there was a delicious dinner provided inside the Club, where prizes were given for the day’s big winners.
You can see photos from the Invitational here!
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Fundraiser
“I have been playing here for nine years. I love being involved with the community. It’s home to me now. To be able to reach out and do something like this, to have people come out and have fun, is great.” – Ben
The event took place on July 8th, 2012 at Jergels Rhythm Grille, and included both a silent auction and a live auction with proceeds benefiting The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which supplies police and fire agencies throughout the country with K-9′s and rescue dogs, and The Make-A-Wish Foundation!
Teammates Brett Keisel, Heath Miller, James Harrison, and Charlie Batch were there to lend a hand, as was ESPN’s Merril Hoge.
Nobody sees the impact Ben has on the kids more than Leigh Ann Lubarsky, the manager of program services at Make-A-Wish. Lubarsky accompanies the kids on their Steelers visits and knows what it’s all about.
“He brings a unique perspective because he grants wishes and he is good at that,” said Lubarsky. “He gets to make the wish happen. Now with the partnership with his foundation he takes it to the next step. He is a wish granter, but is taking it to the next level to make other wishes granted. It’s an amazing thing.”
You can see more photos from the event here.
Message for Julia –
In June, 2012, during Ben’s Youth Football Camp, he was made aware of a very special fan fighting cancer. Julia Pollock was in the hospital for 52 days before being released and is recuperating at home. Ben sent her a short video message he made while she was in the hospital hoping it would lift her spirits.
Julia’s family wanted Ben’s fans to see how much it meant to her.
*If you can’t see the video here, you can watch it here.
Julia’s reaction to his videotaped message:
*If you can’t see the video here, you can watch it here.
From Julia herself:
Hello my name is Julia Pollock.
I battled breast cancer in 2010. In January 2011 I thought I had won the battle, but unfortunately I had not. The cancer is now in my spine and affecting my brain. They say it is terminal. I’m 38 hrs old and refuse to accept that. I still have so much I need to do.
I want Ben to know that his video email meant the world to me not just because I bleed black and gold and watching him every Sunday makes my week but because I’ve ALWAYS known him to be a man with a good heart. When I received the message I was in the hospital and I swear that was the moment I realized I had to fight like I was playing those dumb Ravens in a playoff game. Lol. After 52 days bed ridden in the hospital I am home with my family in Brighton,CO. I’m getting stronger everyday. I guess you could say this is my training camp.
I worked at a hardware store in Steamboat Springs, CO. We employee 45 or so employees. When they all saw the video message they reacted as I did with one exception. They all turned to Steeler Nation or better yet Ben Nation. Every Saturday at work I dress in my jersey for pre-game day. I’ve done this for 6 years. I have had to endure a lot from all my friends and customers. I never would have thought that one genuine and heart felt message could change all of their minds and that they are using words like classy, stand up, awesome and great guy when using Ben in a sentence. Thank you sooo much for your gift. I will treasure it forever.
I know your busy getting ready for the season which is why I’m taken back by your act of kindness. My sister was able to get tickets for her and I to go see you play the Broncos on Sunday night opener. Even though she was only able to get the 2 tickets and my whole family can’t go I’m beyond excited. I’ll be the one yelling and cheering you guys on to a victory in a hostile Bronco crowd wearing my Big Ben jersey with pride. The least I can do after you cheered me on. Thank you with all my heart. I do truly do believe the Lord works in mysterious ways and miracles happen. I have to, I’m a Steeler fan, right?
Thank you so much to Julia, and to her father Alan Nagy! God bless you!
Update: Julia is doing well since she was released from the hospital. She is living with her parents and getting stronger every day.
You can see the latest photo of her and read her personal update here.
June 18-19, 2012 – Ben’s 2012 Youth Football Camp was a big success once again! There was a lot of energy out on the field as 500 kids took part! Ben not only ran around the field coaching all the groups for the two-day camp, he also threw a pass to every child!
“I’ve always had a spot in my heart for the kids and to see the joy on their face when they’re throwing a pass to get a completion and get a high five. It’s just awesome to me,” he said.
The kids weren’t the only ones excited! Many parents sent emails praising both Pro-Camps and Ben:
“Today was absolutely amazing,” said mom Michelle Rodi. “Ben was SO involved with the kids and he didn’t rush anyone through anything. The main “MC/Coach” running it was awesome. He did such an amazing job. Can’t wait until tomorrow. My son Tommy, was so excited to catch Ben’s pass to him!!!! I could go on and on…..it’s just put together that well!!! Thanks to all involved!!”
More parents and grandparents shared their thoughts here.
Photos from the camp can be enjoyed here.
2012 Big 33 Classic Chairman: Ben Roethlisberger
In 2003, Ben led the Miami Red Hawks to an unbeaten record in the MAC, a No. 10 ranking in the Associated Press poll, and a 49-28 victory over Louisville in the 2003 GMAC Bowl.
His number was retired by the Red Hawks in 2007 – becoming only the third athlete in Miami football history to have his jersey number retired. It was the first time in 34 years Miami retired a football jersey number. Just last month, Ben was selected as one of six individuals to be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame later this year.
Ben was on hand for the entire Big 33 weekend. He hosted an event photo above) on Friday evening and spent time on Saturday night on the field, in the stands, and in the broadcast booth during the game.
You can see photos from the event and game here.
November, 2011 – Heinz Field – CASA Champions for Children Event. 250 kids are served by CASA, short for Court Appointed Special Advocates, in Allegheny County. CASA works with children in the child welfare system that are neglected or abused. The advocates serve as a voice for the children in court and other situations to help ensure that every child has a safe, supportive and permanent home.
The Steelers and CASA have teamed up thanks to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, whose wife Chris is a CASA volunteer. Wallace, Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger kicked off the night by attending a dinner with sponsors, giving them the opportunity to hear April speak.
“Kids are neglected in Allegheny County way too much,” said Roethlisberger. “These things help get those kids out of bad situations and put them into places where they can thrive and strive. These kids are in tough situations. If I can help them out I will do that.”
You can read more here.
October, 2011 – The Steelers and Big Ben “Make A Wish” come true. Trenton Lockhart is a 15-year-old who loves football, his family and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But unlike many other teenagers, Trenton has a form of autism that prevents him from grabbing and throwing objects like a football.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation helped Trenton enjoy the sport he loves and meet his favorite player, Ben Roethlisberger.
You can watch video of WTAP-Channel 5 reporter Rich Donnelly’s story on this young man here.
At the 2011 Project Bundle Up event on October 11th, Steelers players took the kids shopping at Macy’s at Ross Park Mall as a part of a Salvation Army program that provides winter outerwear for needy children in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“It’s so nice outside today and they are saying, ‘I don’t want a coat, it’s not cold,’” said Ben Roethlisberger, who was joined by his wife Ashley. “But it’s nice to know when the winter comes and the snow is here they will be warm. It’s an awesome thing. And it’s so much fun once you get them under control and realize what they need. We enjoyed picking out stuff and I hope they did.”
The kids were able to select a winter coat, as well as a hat, scarf and gloves, and in many cases players purchased extra items for them, from socks to sweatshirts, bringing plenty of joy to the youngsters.
You can read more about the event here. Photos here.
Ben & Ashley share the beauty from their July 23, 2011 wedding
Floral arrangements made from their wedding and reception were delivered to the Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, both in Lawrenceville, as well as the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh in Bloomfield and The Children’s Institute in Squirrel Hill.
“There were a lot of them,” said Rachel Check, owner of Hepatica, the Regent Square florist the Roethlisbergers hired. “That’s why so many people were able to enjoy them.”
Flowers used in the wedding and reception included roses, orchids and hydrangeas.
Hepatica regularly donates arrangements to hospitals and charities after events and weddings, but Check said leftovers from Saturday’s wedding provided more than usual. She declined to say how many arrangements were delivered this week.
You can see photos from their wedding here.
The 2011 Ben Roethlisberger Football Camp
Ben hosted 500 children at his Youth Football Camp in June. According to parents and grandparents, the 2-day Camp was a big success and their youngsters enjoyed every minute.
Video from Day 1 of Ben’s Camp, from Nick Sampson at Quest for the Continent Productions:
Another fun video from Day 2 of Ben’s Football Camp:
10 things Garth Brooks missed at the Ben Roethlisberger Football Camp:
Be sure to check out Ben’s message to big Steelers fan and Camp supporter Garth Brooks at the end of the video!!
“The Footballers” Basketball Team took on the Hampton High School Faculty in a friendly game of basketball for a good cause on April 14th, 2011. Proceeds from the sold-out game benefit the Hampton High School senior class.
Ben and several of his Steelers teammates, including Brett Keisel, Nick Eason and Ryan Mundy took to the hardwood in front of a packed audience for a little spirited competition on the court!
Once again, Ben served up some good cheer and great food over the holidays at Ronald McDonald House in Pittsburgh.
On December 31, 2010, approximately forty children, including siblings, enjoyed a delicious New Year’s Eve dinner that included a menu of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, different salads, tortelli, and some very yummy desserts.
According to Leslie Montgomery of Ronald McDonald House, “The families had a wonderful time at their holiday feast and enjoyed every last bite. There weren’t even leftovers and they loved the desserts.”
Sixty families from all over the United States, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, South Carolina and Vermont enjoyed the holiday meal together. There was also a family from Egypt and one from Kuwait who enjoyed the festivities so far from home.
The families were “overwhelmed” and a good time was had by all!
On Tuesday, October 26, 2010, Steelers’ players took 46 kids from the New Kensington Salvation Army shopping at Macy’s at Ross Park Mall as a part of Project Bundle-Up, a Salvation Army program that provides winter outerwear for needy children in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“Do you see the hat we just picked out?” said Ben Roethlisberger. “That’s how much fun it is. We get to shop and hang out and have a lot of fun. We all need warm stuff, especially in the winter.”
Heather Hannan, a spokeswoman for Macy’s, said the company has been participating in Project Bundle-Up since 2001.
“It’s an event this store embraces,” Hannan said.
Each child received a $75 gift card to buy a hat, coat and gloves. Hannan said players have paid for additional items, too.
“This is the best day of my life!” Javon Wade, 9, of Arnold, said as he waited for defensive end Brett Keisel to sign one of the promotional Steelers programs distributed to all the kids.— From articles at Steelers.com and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 27, 2010.
Heath Miller’s Bid for Hope event
Heath and his wife Katie hosted the event on October 18, 2010 at Bossa Nova. It was sponsored through A Glimmer of Hope and proceeds benefited the “Under Forty Breast Cancer Study”.
Some of their guests included teammates Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Keisel, Hines Ward, James Farrior, Keyaron Fox, Matt Spaeth, Jeff Reed, and Max Starks.
“Anything we can do for this cause, to raise awareness and money, we will do,” said Ben Roethlisberger. “It affects so many lives and we want to help. I am all for it. I wear the pink shoes in practice and the game. This month is a great time for us to show our support and raise money for a sad disease.” — From an article at Steelers.com, October 19, 2010.
The Thomas Jefferson Jaguars trip to the Big Dawg Bowl
The Little Jaguars almost didn’t get to play in the bowl, which is hosted by Steelers fan and rapper Snoop Dogg, because of finances. That is where Ben Roethlisberger stepped in by paying all of the travel expenses for the team and coaches, continuing the commitment the NFL and Steelers have with youth football.
“He said he sponsored us because these kids love to play football and I want to give them the chance. The fact that we won it for him was awesome. He said these kids love the game and I want to give them the opportunity. If everyone would adopt that approach it couldn’t be anything but positive.” — Jim Nassida, Jaguars Football Coach
“Behind the scenes at the [Shaq Vs] TV shoot, Mr. Roethlisberger was hosting young patients from the Ronald McDonald House, giving special attention to a transplant patient from Kenya, a young boy who did not know who the football superstar was.
“He has supported the charity since early in his career, when he began paying for catered Christmas and New Year’s feasts at the Shadyside facility. Lately he has taken on more responsibility, becoming the honorary chairman of its capital campaign. A portion of sales proceeds from his barbecue sauce goes to the charity.” — From an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 2009.
“A teen with a life-threatening illness had her wish to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers granted through Kids Wish Network and the generosity of Big Ben and the Steelers.” — Madeline Robinson, Kids Wish Network, January 4, 2010.
“More than anything, Rick wanted to meet the team’s star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. When he walked through the door, Rick’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. Big Ben gave a speechless Rick a huge hug. Rick’s mom said, “If you would have seen that, you would have had a tear in your eye. Rick didn’t have a lot to say, but that hug said it all.”
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Akeem
Seconds after 14-year-old Akeem Havens said he hoped to meet Ben Roethlisberger, the Pro Bowl quarterback walked into the media room at the Steelers’ South Side facility on Thursday.
With a black playbook in his hand and a perturbed look on his face, Roethlisberger said to his newest teammate, “Hey, what’s going on here? We don’t have time for this. We have practice. Are you ready to practice?”
“Let’s go,” Havens said with a smile.
It was one of the highlights in a day filled with them for Havens, who since a car wreck at age 7 has been a quadriplegic and has experienced kidney failure. — From an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 30, 2008.
John Challis Courage for Life Foundation
“I’m here for John and his family and the good things they’re doing through their foundation. I’m glad that I got to know John. He was really a great kid. I got to spend time with him a couple times when he came to training camp. And he was up with us in Mario Lemieux’s booth for one of the Penguins’ playoff games two years ago.
“I jumped at the idea to play today because it’s for a good cause.” — Ben, during a charity golf outing for John’s Foundation, June 28, 2010.
“It was great to have Ben here today. Ben brought a lot of positive energy. He was very kind, very friendly and very interested in our mission.” — Jodi Jaworowski, Challis’ aunt and the president of the Courage for Life Foundation, talks about Ben’s participation in their charity golf outing.
Ben led a team of NFL superstars in a football camp for Special Olympics athletes in Washington, D.C. on April 16th, 2009. The clinic is one of a series of charity efforts organized by the National Football League and its players’ union on behalf of the Special Olympics.
Ben was honored on April 16th, 2009 with an award by the league and its partners for his community service.
For the past three years, Ben has raised money for his former high school’s athletic department in Findlay, Ohio by playing in a charity basketball game in a team comprised of fellow Steelers teammates versus some standout local high school basketball players. In 2009, he was joined on the court by his sister Carlee, who plays for the Oklahoma University women’s team.
The event has raised over $70,000.
Ben has served as an Honorary Chair in Pittsburgh for the Alliance Against Highly Addictive Drugs, for which he made multiple appearances to meet middle school and high school students and promote an anti-drug lifestyle.
2007 Ed Block Courage Award
The Courage House Awards are given annually to a current Pittsburgh Steelers player and a Holy Family Institute alumnus who both have shown extraordinary courage in overcoming challenges in their personal lives or careers.
Athletes for Hope
“Personally, I feel obligated to give back to my community. I can’t speak for other athletes, but like both Jeff and Mario said, athletes are given so much by their community, that it is only right that they give back in spades. I was raised to appreciate my blessings and always try to help others who may not be as fortunate. I feel honored to be able to do so. My particular passion is helping police and firefighters, as it is important that they have the proper resources needed for them to protect their communities and be able to return home to their families each day. By providing police and fire department canine units in Pittsburgh and each NFL city I visit, I look to give back in a unique way that benefits every community that has touched my life. I am grateful for the opportunity. ” — Ben, on the Athletes for Hope website.
American Library Association
He also took some time to read to young students. Click on the link above for photos.
An 8-year-old boy suffering from a devastating disease got a Steelers-sized wish granted last night. Joseph DeBacco got to meet his idol, Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during a very special taping of the PNC Hines Ward Show.
Joseph, who was only given a 10- to 15-percent chance to live, was ecstatic when he found out he would be meeting Big Ben face-to-face.
“I want to have him sign my jersey and I feel awesome.” — From an article on KDKA, December, 2007.
Ben’s challenge to his fellow NFL players
On December 26, 2005, a tsunami caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean killed over 150,000 people.
Prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Steelers and the New York Jets, Ben announced he would donate his game check to the Tsunami Relief Fund.
“I’ll donate my game check to the Tsunami Relief Fund and hopefully it will be a challenge for other people to do the same. A game check isn’t anything like the Yankees donating a million dollars. But everything they can get helps. And hopefully, this is a challenge for other players to do it as well.”
As a league, the NFL has already donated $1 million to the tsunami relief fund through various fund-gathering projects. Steelers owner Dan Rooney said he expects the NFL and all 32 teams in the league to contribute even more.
“Ben’s a wonderful kid and obviously we’re proud that he plans to donate his paycheck to the tsunami fund,” Rooney said. “We’re looking into doing something (as a franchise). I do think something should be done.”
Coach Bill Cowher approved, “It’s a heck of a gesture on Ben’s part. It says a lot about the kid to do something like that. But like I’ve said all along, this kid has a great perspective on things. This is another example of it.” — From an article in the Beaver County Times, December, 2005.
Over the past three years, Ben’s endorsements with “Big Ben’s BBQ” has helped raise close to $150,000 for various charitable organizations. His likeness appears on five flavors of Big Ben’s BBQ Sauce and three fully-cooked meats that are sold in local stores.
“Ben has been great with the fund-raising. I have nothing but positive things to say from our experiences with Ben.” — Company owner John Kosko.