While the majority of the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base probably knows veteran cornerback Joe Haden as somebody who appears to be a good guy, it’s less likely that they know about his extensive philanthropic work off the field.
The cause that is closest to him is his work as an ambassador for the Special Olympics, with which he has been involved for several years. His younger brother, Jacob Haden, is a Special Olympics athlete, and the two of them have only just recently returned from the World Games of the Special Olympics hosted in Abu Dhabi.
“I was just out there for the World Games for the Special Olympics, and me and my little brother, he’s a Special Olympics athlete, we flew out there to Abu Dhabi”, he said during an appearance on the NFL Network. “We just went out there and had a great time with the Special Olympics. We handed out awards, I handed out awards for cycling, weightlifting, soccer”.
So he was gutted to hear a couple of days ago that the government was planning to defund the Special Olympics. “It hurts my heart to see the budget cuts and everything like that. Just seeing these kids and being able to see how much it really impacts their lives. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s just about being able to compete, and being able to show people everybody else that they want to be involved”, he said.
“They want to run track, they want to just have their peers cheer for them. it’s just something that’s really near and dear to my heart and I’m going to continue to raise awareness and put my time and effort and finances towards it”.
But the good news is that, following his appearance, the White House announced they were changing course, with President Donald Trump himself saying, “the Special Olympics will be funded. I just told my people, I want to fund the Special Olympics and I just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics”.
It’s worth noting that threats to the Special Olympics’ budget has become an annual threat in recent years, so even if it hasn’t come this year, it’s likely to resurface next year. Regardless of the path the government chooses to take in the long run, it doesn’t alter Haden’s resolve.