When a race means so much more

As they made their way around the North Shore early this morning, their focus was on finishing the race. For some, it was about how fast they went. For many, it was simply the satisfaction of crossing the finish line. And for others, it was just about spending time with friends and family while staying healthy.

Some of them even had the pleasure of meeting former Steelers guard Alan Faneca, a Hall of Fame finalist last year who spent the offseason working with the team's coaching staff, who served as the honorary chair.

The Steelers held the 28th annual Gatorade/Steelers 5K Race, Fitness Walk and Kid's Kickoff Run at Heinz Field. The race raises money for the Art Rooney Scholarship Fund.

But what all of those who took part in today's 28th Annual Gatorade/Steelers 5K Race might not realize, is their efforts go far beyond the finish line.

The race is one of the main fund-raising events for the Art Rooney Scholarship Fund, carrying on the memory of the late Steelers' owner Art Rooney Sr. Three graduating seniors from North Side high schools, one from Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic and two from Perry High School through the Pittsburgh Promise, are awarded a college scholarship, helping them with the ever rising cost of education.

This year's winners, who will each receive a $12,000 scholarship, are Kaleigh Hart, Perry High School, who will pursue nursing at CCAC; Ray Dean, Perry High School, who will attend Villanova to study physics; and Hayley Mei Ling Rodgers, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, will attend Ohio State to study actuarial science.

"We are all so excited. I am just honored to be considered for this," said Hart. "It's just a blessing. It will be a big help. To be honored and recognized for this is great. It's nice to get that recognition from the Steelers. It's amazing."

For Dean, who played football at Perry, getting this honor was very meaningful.

"To have an organization like the Steelers look out for our up and coming youth is inspiring," said Dean. "The biggest issue with education right now is the cost. That is the biggest obstacle. It's going to go to a large portion of what would be my debt, which hopefully will not exist because of this."

Rodgers was surprised when she was awarded the scholarship, something she didn't even know existed before she was selected.

"It definitely feels good to get recognized for all of my hard work," said Rodgers. "Financially it helps me pursue the education that I have worked so hard for. I think it's great the Steelers reach out to the North Side or schools that originated there. It carries on the tradition, especially with the Rooney family being affiliated with North Catholic and the North Side."

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