By Teresa Varley
It was not a night for the faint of heart at the third annual Steelers Fright Night at the Hundred Acres Manor Haunted House in Pittsburgh's South Park.
Kicker Jeff Reed and long snapper Greg Warren hosted the event, which benefitted Animal Friends and Homeless Children's Education Fund.
"I am absolutely thrilled," said Joseph Lagana, founder of Homeless Children's Education Fund of the event. "I never dreamed 10 years ago we would have the attraction of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is fantastic. Bringing them here really helps us in the end result to serve kids better. The money we raise here is helpful to at least 600 kids in homeless shelters. The kids are flying sky high knowing they are here because they give them hope to get out of the situation they are in to be contributing members of society. Nothing excited them more than something like this. They are all Steelers fans.'
Players had the chance to make their way through the haunted house first, trying to maneuver dark hallways and avoid madmen with chain saws who would unexpectedly jump out from their hiding spots.
"I was real nervous," said running back Rashard Mendenhall. "I don't do stuff like this. I don't watch scary movies. It was tough to go in there, but I just buried my head in Max's (Starks) back and went through behind him. He was the lead blocker. He is too big to be scared. I just got behind Max and I was cool."
\Wide receiver Hines Ward, who shows no fear on the football field, was also a bit on edge as he made his way through the house.
"I love Halloween and everything about it," said Ward, who hasn't been to a haunted house since middle school. "I was jumpy, especially when the lights are out. I don't like people touching or grabbing me. It's scary."
Once they survived their tour of the haunted house the players were made up in ghoulish makeup and found hiding places where they had the chance to scare Steelers fans who attended.
"I have never been in a haunted house before," said nose tackle Casey Hampton. "It was fun, something different. I knew people would be coming out at us and didn't think it would be that scary, but it was scary. But it gave me the chance to check out all of the little hiding places."
The haunted house opened on a night they are normally closed, allowing Steelers fans to come out in large numbers to be frightened by the players and help the charities.
"Animal Friends is so grateful for it," said Erica Rodack, an adoption and admissions counselor for Animals Friends. "All of the funds go to the shelter and we are really grateful they come out and support it. It's great that they have a bye week and they could be doing anything but they came here to take time out because they know what it means to us."
And there wasn't any other place they would have rather been.
"The overall purpose was to raise money for charity, it's a really good cause, but we have fun at the same time," said Reed. "We went through the haunted house and we got scared. Then we knew the best spots to scare people. People were trying to figure out who we were and we had fun scaring them. It's another way for fans to interact with us and us with them and have a little fun."
For a full photo gallery by Danielle Hudak and Teresa Varley click on Steelers Fright Night and go to Events.