As a fellow alumnus of Brigham Young University, I\’ve always been ecstatic that Brett Keisel wears the black and gold jersey of the Pittsburgh Steelers (as does another alumnus, Chris Hoke). What earned Keisel this honor? Well, read on…
Despite the grizzly bear look during the season when he\’s grooming \’The Beard\’, Keisel has a huge heart (more like a teddy bear, but don\’t tell opposing offenses that). In 2010, Keisel used his world-famous beard to hold a fundraiser for Children\’s Hospital of Pittsburgh\’s UPMC\’s Cancer Research Center. The event, “Shear the Beard” raised more than $40,000 for the research facility. Brett and his wife, Sarah, have been very active in helping the Pittsburgh community over the years. Keisel is honorary chair of the annual Cystic Fibrosis \’65 Roses Sports Auction\’ that raised funds for research in the hopes that a cure for the disabling disease can be found. Sarah and Brett serve as honorary co-chairs of the \’Champions for Children\’ event that benefits the Homeless Children\’s Education fund which works to gain equal access to educational opportunities and life experience. As the Steelers\’ spokesperson for the NFL-American Heart Association\’s \’Play 60\’ Challenge, Brett visits local area schools and holds assemblies and other activities that encourage youth to spend sixty minutes per day exercising and staying actively healthy.
Those activities alone sound like they\’d keep a normal couple plenty busy during the year, but the Keisels have so much room in their hearts that they participate in not only the Salvation Army\’s \’Project Bundle Up\’ – a night of shopping during winter months for those less fortunate – but Brett himself has participated in the \’Read Across America\’ program. Can you see Brett Keisel and his beard reading to children in a library? I\’d love to hear him read Dr. Seuss personally. Brett and Sarah annually participate in the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society\’s \’Light the Night Walk\’ in honor and support of (teammate) Aaron Smith\’s son, Elijah. One of the most enjoyable times is seeing Brett and Sarah walk the runway during the Steelers\’ annual \’Steelers Style Fashion Show\’ that benefits the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at UPMC and the Cancer Caring Center.
There are so many children in our world that need help, and when you see Brett and Sarah with some of the Cystic Fibrosis Ambassadors, you can\’t help but smile. Keisel told Teresa Varley, who writes for the Steelers\’ Official Website, “It\’s great to see the kids I have gotten to know and watch grow up…they are doing great each year.” He added, “Last year Emma (one of the children he\’s helped), didn\’t even need a backpack with oxygen in it for the first time. They tell me each year they are getting closer to a cure…the more we can do to help raise funds and awareness, the better.”
As a father, Brett understands what challenges mean to families. He may be all football on the field, but he and Sarah, their children, and the Steelers players and organization understand that off the field, their influence can make all the difference in the world.
Congratulations to Brett on his award.