Keisel helps fight the battle against CF

Posted Dec 1, 2011

PHOTO: Brett and Sarah Keisel with CF Ambassadors Anthony and Emma

Earlier this week Brett Keisel was named the Steelers 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year.

On Thursday night he proved why he is the recipient of the honor as he served as the honorary chairman for the Cystic Fibrosis 65 Roses Sports Auction, one of the many things he does in the community.

It’s a chance for him to show his softer side, as hidden behind the mountain man with the beard is someone whose heart is huge and whose passion for helping children in need is hard to match, especially when seeing some of the young CF Ambassadors he has gotten to know over the years, including nine-year old Emma Chichilla and three-year old Anthony Sarkis.

“It’s great to see the kids I have gotten to know and watch grow up,” said Keisel, whose wife Sarah joined him at the event. “They suffer through this horrible disease but are doing better. They are doing great each year. Last year Emma didn’t even need a backpack with oxygen in it for the first time. She is doing much better. I am very excited about seeing her and Anthony.”

While the event is a wonderful reunion for Keisel and the kids, it’s also about raising awareness of the disease and funds to help battle it and find a cure.

“They tell me each year they are getting closer to a cure,” said Keisel. “Each year more and more kids are living longer and getting better. The more we can do to help raise funds and awareness, the better.

“Knowing that what we are doing is working is the best. You can see it when you talk to the kids or meet new people each year. They all talk about how thankful they are and there is hope for a cure.”

Keisel was joined at the event by many of his Steelers teammates, including James Farrior, Corbin Bryant, Casey Hampton, Cameron Heyward, Ziggy Hood, Heath Miller, and Ben Roethlisberger, signing autographs for the guest.

“In the Cystic Fibrosis community it means the world to us to have these guys involved,” said Pat Joseph, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis. “The Steelers know being a part of the community is so important, but when you see the personality of a guy like Brett come out it’s amazing. He is a dad and understands the challenges a family goes through. He really connects with the families.

“We talk about playing the game on the field, but when these guys come off the field and join us at an event like this, it’s teaming up with our families and showing them there is hope and a victory ahead. It’s like helping us with our Super Bowl.”