Donnie Shell understands what it took. He knows he wouldn't be where he is today without help along the way. And what he wants now, is to give others the same opportunity he had.
Shell, who played 14 seasons for the Steelers and was a part of four Super Bowl championship teams, grew up as one of nine siblings, and without an athletic scholarship to South Carolina State, getting a college education wouldn't have been a possibility.
That is why he is hosting the annual Donnie Shell Invitational Golf Tournament at Champions Retreat in Augusta, Georgia on April 28-29. The tournament is the main fundraiser for the Donnie Shell Scholarship Foundation, which provides assistance to students at South Carolina State.
"It's a blessing to be able to do this," said Shell. "It came from an idea of wanting to help and give back, combined with hard work and determination and some great sponsors, including the Steelers."
Shell's former teammates, as well as other Steelers alumni and celebrities, will be taking part in the annual golf tournament, something that means the world to Shell.
"It's so encouraging to have them be a part of it," said Shell. "When you get a call from a former teammate and they are willing to help you, it means so much. We support each other in a greater cause to help other people."
Shell is working with the school's Presidential Promise Scholarship Program, which doesn't just require the students to do well academically, but also give back by working in different departments throughout the University providing service hours.
For Shell, having the scholarship foundation was something that was instilled in him during his playing days and tying it together with students giving back is exactly what he wants.
"I saw a great example of that with the Rooney family, from Art, 'The Chief,' when I came in, then Dan, and now Art II," said Shell. "They have always been active in the community and giving back to other people. They set a great example. When you are going through it you don't realize it as much. Then you see the Rooney family out in the community doing things to help others, and that rubs off on you when you are with an organization for 14 years."
You can help Shell by visiting DonnieShell.com and lending your support.