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Heyward has a heart of gold

Cameron Heyward knows what it’s like to be in UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

He’s been there. As a patient.

“I was in Children’s Hospital when I was young,” said Heyward, who was a patient there when the hospital was still located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. “I wouldn’t be around today without them. I know there are kids going through similar and tougher situations.

“I had really bad asthma growing up. Really young I had epileptic seizures. I always had bad allergies. I was allergic to real Christmas trees. I spent time around Christmas in the hospital one year. I kept my mom awake late at night, but I am glad to be where I am now.”

And where is he now? He is at a place in his life where he wants to give back to those kids at Children’s Hospital, kids just like him who might be spending Christmas in a hospital bed or undergoing treatments and procedures.

On Tuesday Heyward played Santa for the kids, giving out 300 of his jerseys which were purchased by his foundation, The Heyward House, to help brighten the kids’ day.

“I have been wanting to do more with Children’s Hospital for a while,” said Heyward. “Most of these kids will never be at a game. Some might not be able to afford a jersey. I know it doesn’t do much, but maybe it will spread a little cheer. Everyone deserves a Christmas present.”

If he thinks it won’t do much, he is seriously underestimating himself.

Heyward spent Tuesday afternoon visiting with kids in the hospital’s atrium, passing out the jerseys and playing games. He also spent time in the teen lounge, where trying to beat him at video games was definitely the goal.

“All you want to bring is encouragement,” said Heyward. “Some of these parents are spending their money on nothing but medical bills. If I can help out in a different way, continue to give back, I will. Service goes a long way. No matter what you do. Anyone can donate their time. It goes a long way. I enjoy doing it.

“Children’s Hospital has been good to me, has helped me in the past. I want to do whatever I can to give back.”

Heyward, who is the Steelers Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, isn’t a stranger to giving back to the hospital, especially as of late. He teamed with SmileyCookie.com and Eat’n Park to create limited edition Cam Heyward Cookies, with proceeds going to area children’s hospitals.

He is also working with the Children’s Hospital and UPMC Asthma Institute, something he battles himself, and wants to help children with severe asthma.

“Children’s Hospital is an awesome place,” said Heyward. “It’s all about kids. You look at the building and what they have revamped, it’s all for the kids. They have a superhero day where the window cleaners dress as super heroes because they are going through tough situations.

“Anything I can do to help them, even something small, I want to do it.”

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