Woodley's sacks pay dividends

From the minute he walked in the door at the Boys & Girls Club in Lawrenceville on Monday night, the smile never left LaMarr Woodley's face.

Whether it was seeing the young kids in their Steelers gear, watching The Rainbow Kids perform or trying to figure out how the magician made the rabbit appear, he was having nothing but fun.

"I love being around kids," said Woodley. "Sometimes when I come back I love to participate in the games. I am not LaMarr Woodley from the Steelers, I am just here having fun like everyone else.

"I remember my days at the Boys & Girls Club, that's where I met my friends, was able to be competitive and play sports. It reminds me of back in the day. You learn how to play with others, play as a team. Playing those sports made me the competitor I am today."

It's that competitive spirit that is helping out the Boys & Girls Club as well as other charities in Pittsburgh and his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan.

For every one of his sacks, Woodley makes a donation to his "Sack Attack" program, which is then matched by sponsors and the money is shared by the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, Heroes for Kids and P.A.C.T. Since its inception two years ago the "Sack Attack" has raised over $55,000.

Last year Woodley's donation to the Boys & Girls Club helped salvage a vital after-school program.

"His timing was perfect," said Mike Hepler, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania. "We lost funding for a particular after-school tutoring program. We had this void in the budget. I did not expect that much money from him. He personally added to the money we received from the sacks. It was a blessing."

Hepler joked that he doesn't watch games with a calculator nearby, but he definitely pulls for Woodley to rack up the sacks.

"You can tell he is playing with his heart," said Hepler. "He is a quality player and we happen to be riding that wave. Every time he steps on the field he is out there to do the best that he can do. He is a professional and a good person and that is one heck of a mix"

The Boys & Girls Club was a second home to Woodley growing up in Saginaw and since coming to the Steelers he formed a bond with the clubs here, going there to play with the kids, hosting events and just having fun. But he also likes to deliver a message to them, and after all of the fun and games on Monday, he encouraged them to study and do well in school and focus on the positive things in life.

"When I was a young kid I was in that audience too," said Woodley. "People would come back and talk to us and be positive role models, people I would see on television. Now here I am playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers and I have the opportunity to give back.

"I think it's important for them to see people like myself telling my story of being a member of the Boys & Girls Club. Some of those kids probably face the things I faced when I was younger, people not being positive, putting them down. By me coming back it gives them a chance to see someone who has been in our shoes become successful in life."

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