Who would have thought shearing some beards could turn into an annual event and raise thousands of dollars for cancer programs in the process?
"Da Beard" himself, Brett Keisel, and Steelers Nation, of course!
On Friday, Feb. 15, Keisel held his ninth annual Shear the Beard event to raise money for cancer programs at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in front of a sell-out crowd.
Keisel had some special Steelers in attendance, past and present -- Ben Rothlisberger, James Connor, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, David DeCastro, James Harrison, Charlie Batch and current Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward, who was the first Steelers player to partake in getting his beard sheared.
“He was just a good fit to have a first Steeler,” Keisel said. “Last year, we had Phil Bourque, with the Penguins, but a Steeler that has a pretty good beard and someone who is a tough player and someone who has a heartbeat on the community he is a part of and is a perfect fit for this type.”
The two shared some laughs on stage, and the event was filled with excitement as each guest came out to get their turn shearing some beards.
“It means so much,” Keisel said. “There are so many other things people could be doing, but Pittsburgh is unique in that regard where we have a unique hospital that gives unique care with unique personnel inside that building, that really take it to a different level,” Keisel said.
“I am grateful I get to do it again. I am grateful people come out. Each year, it grows. We get new sponsors, and it is humbling and amazing.”
The former Steelers defensive end is no stranger to Children's Hospital or charity.
On top of Shear Da Beard, Keisel and his wife, Sarah, work closely with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by hosting the 65 Roses Sports Auction each year, and they are also advisory board members for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.
“Truly, no matter how many football accolades he has and how wonderful his career was—it is amazing how genuine and kind and compassionate he is with kids and how he talks to kids at Children’s Hospital," President of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, Rachel Petrucelli said.
"He spends a lot of time there visiting the families, lifting their spirits and he focuses on them — not because of what their situation is, their disease or their illness — he focuses on them as individuals, as kids and relates to them. It is very, very special to see him interact with the kids at Children’s.”
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