Heyward: 'I feel like I owe a lot'

Cameron Heyward knows how to throw a birthday party. He spares no expense, invites his teammates, and makes sure everyone has a good time.

And the best part about it, it's never about him.

It's always about kids who could use a little joy in their lives.

Cameron Heyward celebrated his birthday by giving back to the kids.

Heyward, who turned 28 on May 6, hosted the third annual "Heyward House Birthday Bash" for kids who normally don't get to enjoy their special day the way most do.

The celebration kicked off with a shopping spree, with Heyward's foundation, The Heyward House, teaming with Dick's Sporting Goods at the Waterfront to provide 12 kids from the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club a new pair of shoes.

"This is awesome," said Jim Barry III, Branch Director from the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club. "It's an awesome opportunity for the kids to meet a great guy like Cam. The kids really could use a new pair of shoes, be able to go to school with new shoes and be confident. It's special that he does this for the kids. The best gift is giving and Cam expresses that by coming here and showing his support for the youth in Pittsburgh."

The kids picked out their shoes and then were thrilled to get Heyward's approval on their selections, and spend time chatting and joking around with him.

"I love giving back to our community," said Heyward. "Our community is pretty awesome and a lot of players take time to do the same. For the birthday celebration to kick off with giving shoes to some cool kids is awesome. These kids deserve everything they get. It makes it fulfilling to do it.

"I feel like I owe a lot. The people before me showed me how to do this. These kids make everything worth it. It's not just the shoes, it's the moments and the memories made in the shoes. We want to give them the opportunity to do that."  

Once the shopping wrapped up, it was time for a party. Heyward invited children from KidsVoice, an agency that represents abused and neglected kids who are in foster or group homes, to join him and some of his teammates at Dave & Busters at the Waterfront.

"This is our favorite event of the year," said Scott Hollander, Executive Director of KidsVoice. "For Cam to take his birthday and turn it around and throw a party for our clients is special. We try to pick kids who don't have parents in their lives, don't celebrate their birthday. For them to come out here and do this and celebrate their birthday with Cam and their teammates is special. They tell us they can't wait to tell their friends at school the next day. That's something they don't get to say often."

The party included dinner for the kids, and of course birthday cake and cupcakes. Then it was time for fun and games as the kids hit the Dave & Busters' arcade with about of dozen of Heyward's teammates, where the energy level skyrocketed.

"It got kind of wild," joked Heyward. "I challenged some of the kids in the games. It's always fun. The kids are competitive. They hate to lose as much as me."

While it was hectic, you could also see what it meant to Heyward, and even more so to the kids.

"The kids are so appreciative," said Heyward. "The hugs and hearing them say thank you, I don't think I was that appreciative at that age. For me to be able to do this and them say thank you, they are on the right track.

"When you see how happy they are, it's awesome."

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