A week ago Cameron Heyward was announced as the winner of the Steelers Walter Payton Man of the Year, and is a nominee to be the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year as well.
On Thursday night he provided another example of why he is such a deserving recipient.
Heyward served as a host for the Cystic Fibrosis 65 Roses Sports Auction, an event he was introduced to by former teammate Brett Keisel and has carried on the tradition of.
“It was a baton that was passed on to me by Brett,” said Heyward. “We both cared about it. We know it’s for a great cause.”
Heyward and his teammates spent time mingling with guests, signing autographs, but even more importantly spending time with CF families and this year’s CF ambassador, Anthony Sarkis, a young boy who lives with cystic fibrosis and understand the battle he faces. Joining Heyward at the event were Jordan Berry, Craig Bingham, Robert Golden, Javon Hargrave, Lavon Hooks, Vince Williams, Jake McGee, Sean Spence, Stephon Tuitt, Greg Warren and T.J. Watt.
“We have gotten to meet a lot of people, especially the kids, affected by it,” said Heyward. “You see everybody. You get to see the results. You get to see the improvement. The long term effects are what everybody is seeking. We get to stay in their lives and when we do see them again, we hope there is a positive ending to it.”
It’s those interactions, those moments together, that make a major impact on everyone.
“As motivating as our fight is, when you have the players they are passionate about everything they do, every game, every practice,” said Pat Joseph, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis. “When they connect with our ambassadors, and families, those in that community feel it. It’s a wonderful thing when you see the excitement and appreciation when they connect with the players. They are the heroes in their lives. It’s so motivating to them to know they aren’t alone, that Cam and his teammates are on their team.”
While the event is a fun time to mingle with Heyward and his teammates, there is a much deeper meaning for it. The purpose is to raises funds to help find a cure, and raise awareness for a disease that impacts so many.
“It’s a great thing to have this relationship with the Steelers,” said Joseph. “When Brett handed the ball to Cam, we know he is recognized as a leader on and off the field. To have this special evening to celebrate with him and the team behind him. Cam is a captain of the defense, every game he goes out there and gives 100 percent. To me, his role off the field is just as important. He champions causes, including our fight. That adage of defense, it’s our game plan. It’s the foothold for the CF Foundation as we continue to move the ball down the field.
“We feel like Cam and the fight against CF are a natural coming together of both of our missions.”