By Teresa Varley
Wide receiver Hines Ward hosted eight biracial children from Korea for a weekend in Pittsburgh when the team played the Vikings. The visit is sponsored by the Hines Ward Helping Hands Korea Foundation, and featured an "All-Star" reunion of bringing back kids who attended the first few years.
"It was fun to get an update and see how they are," said Ward. "When they first got here they were shy and reluctant the first time. It was sad to see some of them go. Then I got to see some of them at the reunion dinner and just to see their smile brighten up, it was like kids were supposed to look, full of joy and happiness. It's good to see them again."
Ward, who was born in Korea to a Korean mom and African American father, hosted the bi-racial kids through the Hines Ward Helping Hands Korea Foundation and Pearl S. Buck International. Kids in Korea are often discriminated against if they are bi-racial and Ward is doing everything in his power to change that and bring happiness to those kids.
Ward welcomed the group at the Pittsburgh International Airport, and then they went to stay with host families who have adopted Korean children. On Saturday they enjoyed lunch and playing video games with Ward at Dave and Busters, sharing plenty of laughter.
"It is exciting," said Ward. "It's great to hear how their lives are going and stuff like that. It's a great chance for me to give them the opportunity and provide a hope that they can go out and be positive people."
The group had dinner on Saturday night at Sushi Kim and on Sunday it was all about football as they were guests at the Steelers-Vikings game.
This year, in addition to a weekend in Pittsburgh and attending the Steelers game, the kids were able to visit Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York to visit historic landmarks and gain a broader sense of our country's heritage and culture.
"That is what it is all about, not just seeing Pittsburgh and watching the game, but going to the nation's capital, going to Philadelphia where the Pearl Buck Foundation headquarters are, and getting a chance to go to New York," said Ward. "They get to see a little bit of everything. Hopefully this will be an all-time trip for them.
"It's amazing how it has picked up. Who knows if the next Hines Ward is waiting in the wings but they are never given an opportunity. We are trying to encourage, and give them a sense they can be positive people."