The atmosphere at Heinz Field was electric on Wednesday night at the 2015 Muscle Team fundraiser, an event that benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Current and former Steelers' players, as well as other area athletes and Pittsburgh firefighters, were teamed with MDA Goodwill Ambassadors for an evening of fun and plenty of games for a good cause.
"It's a lot of fun," said offensive lineman Chris Hubbard, moments after he lost at air hockey to two of the young MDA Ambassadors. "Mingling with these guys, having fun playing games. They are very competitive. They beat me twice and I won only one once. I was breaking a sweat and everything trying to win. They took advantage of me. It's definitely a fun event. I really enjoyed it.
"The kids are able to just be kids. The inspiration that they have is just great."
The MDA Goodwill Ambassadors are children living with the neuromuscular disease and the Muscle Team event is an opportunity to show the strength that they have, and allow them to enjoy life the same as any other child does. Each child is paired with an area athlete, and joining Hubbard were teammates C.J. Goodwin, Alejandro Villanueva, Jordan Zumwalt and Ethan Hemmer, as well as former Steelers Andy Russell, Edmund Nelson and Wes Lyons.
"It was amazing to be here playing with the kids and I hope it brightened their day," said Goodwin. "They brightened my day. I have a daughter and this humbles you a little bit. It's a blessing to see the way these kids are. They don't know that they helped us more than we helped them. It's a true blessing."*
There was a live and silent auction held to help raise funds to support the fight against muscular dystrophy and to help fund an annual camp for the kids, which all of the MDA Ambassadors attend. This year's Muscle Team event also honored Michael Mascaro, Executive Vice President of Mascaro Construction with the Guy Buzzelli, Jr. Champion of Spirit Award.
But the most important aspect of the night was the kids battling muscular dystrophy.
"That is what I like about it, the theme of celebrating all of our heroes," said Deborah Haseleu, Executive Director for MDA. "The kids look up to the firefighters, to the athletes, and we look up to the kids for how they endure muscle disease with such a positive attitude. It's a great celebration of hope tonight. These kids are the kids who go to camp with us, to see them on this level interacting with athletes, firefighters…it's wonderful.
"It's special knowing the difference it means to the kids."