By Teresa Varley
Steelers tight end Heath Miller and former offensive guard Alan Faneca were on hand for a check presentation from A Glimmer of Hope to the Magee-Women's Research Institute & Foundation.
The $100,000 check will be used to continue support of premenopausal breast cancer research, a study that is the passion of A Glimmer of Hope founder Diana Napper.
Miller and his wife Katie and Faneca and his wife Julie were key components in helping to raise the funds through the annual Bid For Hope event. Faneca hosted the event while he played for the Steelers and are still involved. Miller took over and hosted the event that was held at Jerome Bettis Grille 36.
"I've got a family history of breast cancer and that spurred us into it," said Faneca. "We spent 10 years here in Pittsburgh and made some great friends. Pittsburgh is always going to be a part of us. The friendships we made here and the things we started here we are going to continue to do as long as possible."
Miller, who also has a family member affected by breast cancer, said his desire to help grew after the check presentation when he learned some of the research studies and that over 250,000 women under-40 are living with breast cancer.
"Once you get involved and you see the statistics it makes you want to do more," said Miller. "You realize what a problem it is for our society and you want to do what you can to help out."
That willingness to help out and get involved means everything to Dr. Paniti Sukumvanich, assistant professor of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Magee-Women's Hospital and the one who is in charge of the study.
"It shows they have such a commitment to their community and the fans out there," said Dr. Sukumvanich. "One person said and it's true, what they do on the field is sheer talent. But what they do off the field is what is really important. This is why this town loves them so much. They do so much more than play football. They help support the community.
"This study would not have been possible without them and the amount of work that they put into it. Funding for studies that take this much time is hard to do. Sometimes people fund things and they want it to take a year or two and have their answers. It's not that easy, especially with younger patients that take a long time to see some of these results. We are fortunate that there is someone who has enough of a vision to know what it takes."
Also on hand for the presentation were representatives from Robert Morris University, including Associate Athletic Director Marty Galosi, fresh off the school's exciting basketball season which included the NCAA tournament, and head athletic trainer Michael Vittorino, who got the school involved with raising funds for A Glimmer of Hope.