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Bleier & Bettis on board to help veterans

Jerome Bettis was known as 'The Bus' during his playing days with the Steelers, and Rocky Bleier was admired not just for what he did on the football field, but even more for his service to our country in the United States Army during the Vietnam War.

So it only makes sense the two former Steelers would join forces to help local veterans who are in need of transportation.

Bettis and Bleier have teamed with the United Way of Allegheny County on a fundraising program to provide bus passes to 600 local veterans. Veterans often times struggle finding transportation to work, doctor's appointments, or even just to the grocery store, and the program is aimed at easing the burden on them.

"There are nearly 100,000 veterans in Allegheny County," said Julie DeSeyn, director of community impact at United Way.  "For some, one of the hardest parts of the journey is after they return home and begin reestablishing their lives.  Employment and poverty rates among many veterans are high, and many rely solely on public transportation to get where they need to go."

The goal of the United Way campaign, which runs from March 16-22, is to provide three months of transportation to each eligible veteran. For every $100 donated to the campaign, a veteran will receive a month of transportation. The United Way will match donor gifts up to $40,000.

Bettis and Bleier taking part in promoting the program is part of the Steelers continued commitment to the United Way and the programs they support.

"Having them involved enables us to get an important message out to the community," said Megan Marucco, Senior Corporate Relations Manager at United Way. "We are a community that stands up for each other in a time of need and salutes our returning veterans. To be able to stand up and get that message out to the community is just huge to us.

"And Rocky having served, you can see his passion. He knows this is important. It was important to him when he was returning. To be able to pass that forward is huge for him and our community. They both care for our community so much."

Donations can be made by visiting the United Way of Allegheny County or by texting 'veterans' to 51555.

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