Tomlin shares importance of fatherhood

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The smiles and laughter were abundant, the bonding evident and the relationships stronger than ever as fathers and their children enjoyed a fun-filled morning at the hhgregg All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, a spokesman for All Pro Dad, hosted the event along with former center Jeff Hartings, sharing their message about the importance of fatherhood.

"Family comes first," said Tomlin. "Coaching is what I do but being a husband and father is who I am. I think that is the proper perspective to have. What we do for a living can consume us, but I think we need to keep our priorities in order. Sometimes we need reminders of that and I continually remind myself.

"I want to encourage fathers and surrogate fathers to be the best that they can be. More than anything it's about having them fight the fight."

While Tomlin's wife Kiya was at a track meet with sons Mason and Dino, he attended the event with daughter Harlyn, sharing quality time with the five-year old.

"This is an important event to me because I want to be the very best father I can be," said Tomlin. "I want to encourage other fathers to do the same. We all need encouragement with that. Being a husband and father is who we are. I constantly remind myself of that."

The fathers and kids took part in football drills, as well as bonding experiences that included sharing hugs and saying I love you, as well as sharing other thoughts with each other.

"I am a father of seven," said Hartings, who was joined by two of his daughters. "Whether you are a father of one, five or seven it's always a struggle keeping the balance of being a good husband and father.

"There is nothing more important than being a father and loving our wives and children. It is so rewarding. You have to be unselfish. I sometimes think about what I want to do, then invite my children to do it with me."

One attendee who definitely understood that message of unselfishness was Ronnald Randall, who has 12 children ranging from age nine to 29, and eight grandchildren. Randall, who is from the East Hills, attended the event with sons Michael, nine, and Matthew, 13.

"It means a lot to me being here," said Randall. "They are around me all of the time. I am a 24-hour a day dad. It's great to have them do things outside of the community to grow. Spending time together is important. It's very important. It's the highlight of my day.

"It's great to have Mike Tomlin come out not just as a coach, but representing his family. It means a lot. It's good to see fathers out. In my community fathers are non-existent. It's mostly single mothers."

That is a situation Tomlin is somewhat familiar with as he was raised for part of his childhood by his mother, until she married Leslie Copeland who quickly took on the father role in Tomlin's life.

"I am a single-parent home kid for the majority of my early childhood until my mother met an awesome man and they got married and he became my step-father," Tomlin told the group. "He was much more than that; he was an All-Pro Dad. He put me first, coached my baseball teams, encouraged me in everything I do and gave me the confidence to do what I do today. I want to encourage all of you step dads, granddads and uncles that are acting in a father like capacity to continue what you are doing."

Ronnald Randall with sons Michael and Matthew. (below)

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