Wide receiver Hines Ward hosted eight bi-racial children from Korea for a weekend in Pittsburgh, topped off by the group watching the Steelers defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field.
The visit is sponsored by the Hines Ward Helping Hands Korea Foundation and Pearl S. Buck International, bringing the children of Korean and other Asian descent together for a weekend of fun and football.
There might have been a language barrier with some of them, but one thing that spoke volumes was the smile on the kid's faces.
"It's a blessing for me to be in the position to do this," said Ward. "Watching these kids, seeing the smile on their face, that is what a kid is supposed to be doing. I am honored to do it. Hopefully they can go back full of confidence and self-esteem."
Ward, who was born in Korea to a Korean mom and African American father, has been doing this for six years to help kids who are often discriminated against because they are bi-racial. Ward, who selects the kids based on essays they write, is doing everything in his power to change the discrimination and bring happiness to them.
"The circumstances they go through each and every day being teased and ridiculed about being mixed race, being an outcast because you look different is tough," said Ward. "Society views you a different way because you are of a mixed race. We bring them here to let them know it is okay. Reading the essays they write and what they said, it's very touching. They talk about their life and struggles. Reading the essays and seeing them today, that is what it is all about."
Ward welcomed the group at Pittsburgh International Airport, hosted them at a dinner, enjoyed fun and games at Dave & Buster's and provided tickets for the game. After that they headed to New York where they toured sites and saw The Lion King.
"He is a great person, a person of integrity and a symbol of success and overcoming challenges and helping others," said Ambassador Young-mok Kim, the Consul General of the Republic of Korea. "I was impressed by his commitment to help children with multiracial backgrounds to overcome whatever difficulties. It deserves attention and support from many people.
"He has many unique reasons for being respected. For these kids, doing all of this is a dream for them. This gives them confidence for a long time to think they can enjoy this life. It's a positive addition to their future."
Ward receives support from the Steelers, Dick's Sporting Goods, StarKist and Nike to make the weekend possible, but also puts his own money toward funding it.
"If I can impact one child to make a difference that is what it's all about," said Ward. "That is what I am passionate about. Hopefully when I am done playing football I can continue to do it, but while you are playing it is great to be able to do this."