By Teresa Varley
For those who had a chance to mingle with Steelers players, obtain autographs and play interactive games against the black and gold, Challenge the Champions was about having fun and helping to raise funds for a fantastic organization, Every Child, Inc.
For 14-year old Aaron, it was a whole lot more. It was about his life changing for the better.
Aaron is one of the special kids who are served by Every Child, Inc., an organization whose goal is that every child, no matter what type of problem they have, is given the opportunity to grow up in a loving and safe environment.
That is all Aaron has ever wanted. And now, he will have that. He is about to be adopted. And after meeting him, you couldn't be happier. He is full of life and energy, has a smile that goes from ear to ear and has a love for certain things, among those the Steelers and more importantly his mom.
"I really appreciate them coming out here tonight," said Aaron of the Steelers players. "I am a Steelers fan. I play football and basketball. I really appreciate it."
He then looked over toward the woman who is in the process of adopting him.
"I appreciate her a lot too," said Aaron. "A whole lot. She's my mom."
Linebacker James Farrior served as the honorary chair for Challenge the Champions, held at the Carnegie Science Center, and had a chance to spend time with Aaron, talking with him, playing games and just sharing some quality time that will provide a lifetime of memories.
"I have always had a special place in my heart for helping kids, especially those who are underprivileged or at risk," said Farrior. "Without the help and guidance of adults and a good support system, they don't have a chance. You want to always give a young child an opportunity and chance to grow and progress and be successful in life."
Joining Farrior at the event were Casey Hampton, Ike Taylor Chris Hoke, Deshea Townsend, Charlie Batch, Brett Keisel, Travis Kirschke, Bruce Davis, Patrick Bailey, Roy Lewis and Desmond Sherrod.
"There really is no way to thank them," said Susan Davis, executive director of Every Child, Inc. "They have been here for Every Child for years now. They come out every year to give of their time. It means so much. It's a way for people to know who we are and the work we do. These are tough times and the families we work with are the most vulnerable families in the community. The money that was raised will be used to provide Thanksgiving dinners, things for the holidays, bus passes."
And more importantly the ability to continue the search for a safe and happy home for kids like Aaron who truly deserve it.