Making kids happy; keeping them healthy

To say the energy level at the Shadyside Boys & Girls Club was at a fever pitch when the Steelers' rookies walked in for the United Way Hometown Huddle just might be the biggest understatement ever.

An already excited group of kids, who were taking part in afterschool activities, took that excitement to the next level as the players surprised them with their visit and joined them in fun and games.

"When you walk in and see the smiles on their faces, not every day kids get to see NFL players," said Brian Allen. "Giving back to the community is a good thing. Staying active, eating right, it's a big thing. Some of the kids are small, but letting them know if they stay active, eat right, they can be as big as me.

"This takes us back to our kid days. Going out and playing with the kids and having fun is what it's all about."

The Steelers rookies took part in the United Way Hometown Huddle at the Boys & Girls Club in Shadyside.

The Hometown Huddle is a part of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania's fitUnited initiative that brings adults who are influential in the lives of kids together with them to stress the importance of making the right decisions for a healthy lifestyle, from exercise to diet.

"This is an absolutely fabulous event," said Bob Nelkin, President and CEO of United Way of Southwestern Pa. "The excitement is incredible. The Steelers are helping all of these kids understand how important it is to be active. Play 60 that the NFL has, and fitUnited that United Way has that the Steelers are a part of, it's all about encouraging physical activity and good nutrition. When the kids get this as lifetime habits, they will be so much better off."

The activities ranged from football drills and balloon relay race, to a food group relay race and making tie dye shoelaces. And all of them brought smiles to the kids and players.

"It's cool," said James Conner. "It's taking me back a few years. They are happy, so I am happy. This is a great place for them to come and be active and be with friends."

This is the 19th year the Steelers have participated in the Hometown Huddle, and each year the team and the United Way bring not just a message of a healthy life, but a lot of fun.

"It's a wonderful experience for the kids, something they will never forget," said Dave Digirolamo, Senior Branch Director of the Shadyside Boys & Girls Club. "They are excited. This is Steelers country. When the players walked in you saw the excitement.

"It's great for them to be here spending their time with the kids, promoting an active and healthy lifestyle. The United Way has been a blessing to the Boys & Girls Club. We try to promote that at all of the Boys & Girls Clubs."  

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