Posted on: December 27, 2008 6:03 am
Often we talk about the players and the organizations. Their on the field play, their off the field contributions. No doubt the Rooney's and the rest of the Steelers organization, in the tradition of "The Chief" makes the community and their fans a part of their "family". When the team reaches out to the community for help, the "family" responds by giving themselves. Not their money, not canned goods, but literally, giving a part of themselves.
Each year the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with the Central Blood Bank, host their annual blood drive, which normally draws a large response. This year, Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith reached out to the community with the plight of his five year old son Elijah and the transfusions necessary to help Smith's son battle leukemia, to show the dire need to maintain the blood banks supplies. This year, nearly 900 Steelers faithful responded by showing up at Heinz Field on Friday and giving a pint of themselves, making this blood drive one of the largest and most successful drives in several years. On hand to meet the donors were Steelers players, including Mr. Smith.
It is around the holiday season, that blood supplies tend to reach a critically low level. Nationwide, the American Red Cross and local blood banks step up their efforts to reach out and make sure there is enough blood on hand for those patients that need it.
Personally, I know the importance of blood donors, they helped save the life of my mother. My mother under went a routine operation that went bad. In the end, what saved her life was the blood transfusions (at the time, she made AMA journals for having received the largest amount of blood and surviving). Had those donors not stepped up, an 11 year old girl and her sisters would have been left without a mother.
If you've donated blood this season, thank you. If you haven't, please take a moment and stop by your local blood drive, blood bank or American Red Cross and give a little bit of yourself. Don't worry, those needles only hurt for a second.
Source: Steelers plea brings hundreds to blood drive at Heinz Field, by Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, dtd 12/27/08
Posted on: December 17, 2008 12:15 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2008 12:19 pm
It’s not uncommon to hear the chants of the crowd in stadiums when a wide receiver gets past the last defenders, when a running back breaks through a pile and runs downhill towards the goal line, when the return specialist breaks through and makes his way down the field for a touchdown. The chant of “go, go, GO”, hoping some how it would encourage the person who was fighting past the defenders, urging them on.
As fans of football, we’ve been there, watching our team fight through adversity, cheering them on, elated when they break through for a victory. Go, Go, Go !!!
And there they are, heroes to young boys who aspire one day to maybe be on that field of battle themselves. Players who send fans cheering and cursing at the same time. And any given Sunday, in a stadium where the Steelers black and gold show up, towels are waving in hopes to encourage their team on.
In the midst of the defenders on that field is defensive end Aaron Smith. The ten year veteran of the Steelers defense has seen many foes. How important is Smith to the Steelers defense? Very, his absence last year was noticeable. In the past the one time Pro-Bowler would fight through injuries to provide his strength and leadership to a defense that consistently remained in the top ten in the league. This year, on the field he would be having a banner year, with 53 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Unfortunately, for Smith, the “enemy of battle” would not be just the teams that the Steelers meet each Sunday (or Thursday, Saturday or Mondays) and would not just be on the field.
The rumors would be confirmed, in a December 14th article with Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, that Smith’s son, Elijah would be diagnosed and treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer that attacks the white blood cells. This form of cancer, if caught early enough, has an 80 percent survival rate. Since the diagnosis, just prior to the Giant’s game, Elijah, now five, has responded well to the chemotherapy and has had positive results in fighting this disease. This battle, dad would play a supporting role and it will be Elijah who is fighting and winning the battle.
“We feel blessed," said Smith, a man of faith. "We will come out of this and be a stronger family, and my son will be a stronger person." (1)
During this time, Smith would have the support of his teammate and coaches to help him through this both on and off the field. Said Smith last week, "It's unbelievable the group of guys we have. Honestly, I know some of them better than I know my own family." (1)
On December 26th, the Steelers organization will be hosting a blood drive at Heinz Field, where current and former Steelers players will greet donors. Aaron Smith acknowledged the crucial need for blood, his son having undergone five or six blood transfusions in the process of his treatment.
One day this fight will be a memory for both Elijah and his family. For now, he’s the valiant warrior fighting and winning over his foe. Today, Elijah is the hero, as is his family and I for one will be chanting
GO ELIJAH GO!!!
(1) Source: "Since October, pain has had new definition for family of Aaron Smith, Ron Cook, December 14, 2008, Pittsburgh Post Gazette