Defensive end Brett Keisel might be struggling with a foot injury on the field, but on Thursday night he wasn't thinking about his own pain, instead putting those suffering from cystic fibrosis front and center as he hosted the Cystic Fibrosis 65 Roses Sports Auction.
"Brett is one of the people I respect the most and always have," said Pat Joseph, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis. "It's so special to have him involved with us. Brett truly cares about the cystic fibrosis community. He has grown with us since we have been privileged enough to have him as our chairperson.
"He is one of those jewels that really care. He cares about the kids, the families. He has that passion in him. He knows what it means, how important a cause it is, and he cares. It's notable and rather rare to see it and we just love it."
While the main goal of the evening was to raise funds for research in an effort to find a cure for the disease, Keisel also enjoyed spending time with kids that suffer from cystic fibrosis that he has gotten to know well.
"I have developed relationships with the families and the children that suffer from cystic fibrosis," said Keisel. "I have gotten to watch the kids grow. You see the kids you have met growing up big and strong. That is what makes me most proud of it.
"It's really getting close to a cure, which is so important. Kids are living longer. They are living happier, healthy lives. Women are able to have children. There was a time when women with cystic fibrosis weren't able to have children. It's moving along and we want to continue that. We want to find a cure."
Keisel recently filmed a video, an instructional PSA for those suffering from cystic fibrosis. The video explains the precautions those with cystic fibrosis have to take when they are around others with the disease, as they can pass along respiratory infections to each other.
"This video he did to help children and young adults deal with the serious reality of getting their care and staying healthy while they have cystic fibrosis is important," said Joseph. "Until we have our drugs and cures, this is a really important thing. Brett has been such a partner to us in every fashion.
"Having Brett and the Steelers behind us helps us raise awareness and tell the story of why we are winning in the fight against cystic fibrosis. People like Brett bring people to our doorstep and they stay with us and become partners with us. It's so much more than what happens at the event. It only starts there."
In addition to a silent and live auction, guests at the event also had an opportunity to obtain autographs from Keisel and some of his teammates.
"It means a lot to have the guys here," said Keisel. "We are a family in the locker room. That is one thing that makes it special, we always support each other when we are doing things for charity. You know you always have your brothers back."