Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch is committed to giving back to the community, and on Thursday was honored for that work when he won the Byron "Whizzer" White Award, an honor given by the NFL Players Association to a player for their work in the community.
"It's truly an honor to win this," said Batch. "For me to see the past winners names attached, first off it is named after Byron "Whizzer" White, who played for the Steelers, and three former Steelers won it including Andy Russell, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. It's great to be a part of it."
Batch started his Best of the Batch Foundation 12 years ago, fulfilling a promise he made after his younger sister, Danyl Settles, was shot and killed in 1996, in the crossfire between rival gangs in their Homestead neighborhood.
"I said if I could ever give back I would," said Batch. "It was a small dream and there was a lot of work that went behind it that I was unaware of at the time. That is when I became more passionate. We are still continuing to add programs and create opportunities for kids. A lot kids don't know what happened to my sister, but their parents do. They know the story because they lived it.
"It was a way for me to take something negative in my life and turn it into something positive. We continue to go out there and try to push these kids past their expectations in whatever aspect it is. Everybody can make an impact. I try to stress the importance of education, but also returning to your community because you didn't do it on your own. You had other people help you and you need to give back."
Batch's foundation does just that, serving those in the Pittsburgh area, including Homestead where he was raised. The foundation provides an array of services, from computer literacy programs to summer basketball leagues. "Being able to play for the Rooney family and the belief they have in me, including in what I do off the field, is great," said Batch. "Pittsburgh is home and to be able to be hands on with the foundation makes it so much better. We are creating more and more programs to impact kids.
"We are an educational foundation that uses sports to draw kids in. We target the literacy rates to make sure we are trying to get them up and that is why we stress our literacy reading program. We are always doing our part to raise the reading levels. I am happy to be able to help the Pittsburgh region attack that."
Batch doesn't limit his work in the community to what he does with the foundation, also serving as the team's United Way spokesperson and being involved in many of the team's charitable events. But it's his foundation, which will receive a $100,000 donation for him winning the award, where his heart is and he is thankful for all of the support he has received since its inception.
"Its success is a tribute to people believing in what our cause is," said Batch. "We have so many great volunteers that support what we do and it's special. This will make even more people aware of what we are doing. I have had so much support from the Rooney family, which is great. It's an honor, but there is still a lot of work to be done."