Ben is active in the community whether it’s the middle of football season or during the off-season. Click on the links below to see just a few of the activities, foundations, and charities he is involved in:
On October 26, 2012: Giving back
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation donated $25,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation! That money will allow Make-A-Wish to grant wishes to six children!
Ben presented the check to Judith Stone (pictured), President and CEO of Make-A-Wish during an impromptu press conference this afternoon after practice.
The money was raised during The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Invitational Golf Tournament in July.
For the past several years, Ben has devoted his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of his passion to help children.
“It’s no secret how much the kids mean to me. When someone has a wish and they want to spend it with the Steelers that touches you and is special. For us to be able to do this and be able to have six kid’s wishes come true is awesome. Being there to meet them, shake their hand, sign an autograph means a lot to me.” – Ben.
One of the most memorable of these Make-A-Wish moments was when he met 14-year old Akeem Havens, who signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in May of 2008 (scroll down the page to see the story and video) to become one of Ben’s go-to wide receivers for the day!
You can watch video of Ben’s press conference today here.
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Sabrina
Sabrina Briley might live deep in the heart of Texas, but the 16-year old from El Paso loves the Steelers and on October 26, 2012, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation she had a chance to meet some of her favorite Steelers’ players – including Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger.
After the team’s practice the players took time to visit with her, sign autographs and pose for pictures, bringing a huge smile that might not go away for a long time.
“Every since I was little I liked the Steelers,” said Briley, who learned her wish was granted courtesy of a video from Roethlisberger.
From an article by Teresa Varley, Steelers.com
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Alex
But Wagner had good reason for being that way. What kid wouldn’t be smiling if they were a guest at Steelers’ practice and getting ready to meet the team?
Wagner, who has hypothalmic disorder, was at practice courtesy of the team and Make-A-Wish Foundation and will attend Sunday’s game against the Eagles at Heinz Field.
“There is nothing as cool as getting this close to them,” said Wagner. “It’s hard to explain. It’s hard to believe. I never expected this at all, not even a little bit. I never thought I would be able to do anything like this, but apparently it can happen.”
When practice ended, things got even better as the players all made their way over to Wagner, talking to him, posing for pictures and signing autographs. Ben Roethlisberger took him into the locker room, and then off to his production meeting with Fox Sports where he met Troy Aikman, who is in town for the game.
“Alex loves football,” said his mom Terry Wagner. “He can’t play because of his medical condition, but he loves it more than anything in the world. This is his dream come true. It makes us so happy to see him like this.
“Since we knew this was happening, he has never been happier. He is a serious kid and this has brought the joy out of him.” – From an article by Teresa Varley, Steelers.com
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Christopher
On August 18, 2012 as 13-year old Christopher Naegeli watched the Steelers morning practice at training camp, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger came behind him, then knelt down beside him and started talking football.
The teenager who a few minutes earlier was joking with his mom and sister, got quiet and shy, meeting his hero for the first time. But after a few minutes Naegeli, who has spina bifida and came to camp through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, warmed up not just to Roethlisberger but also to Coach Mike Tomlin, and the rest of the players who came over to meet him, sign his football and joke around.
“It means a lot,” said his mother, Barbara Naegeli. “This is something he normally wouldn’t ever get to do. He likes watching football, but because of his wheelchair he will never be able to play. It’s great for him to get up close with the players.”
And it was easy to see the players, including Roethlisberger whose foundation helps the Make-A-Wish Foundation, loved it as well.
“I think it’s awesome the players like to do it and love spending time with the kids,” said Naegeli. – From an article by Teresa Varley, Steelers.com.
The 2012 Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Invitational
“On behalf of The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, I would like to personally thank all of our sponsors and participants for their generous contributions!” – Ben
On July 9th, 2012, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Invitational took place at Sewickley Heights Golf Club in Sewickley, PA. It was Ben’s first charity golf event.
In 2011, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation granted $46,000 to police and fire departments in the Pittsburgh area, and another $77,000 around the country for a total of $123,000.
A total of 112 golfers participated in the tournament with 27 companies and corporations sponsoring the event, including Apollo Jets, Patriot Homes Corporation, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PNC, #1 Cochran, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The golfers had a great time with the pre-tournament competitions, which included the Chip Shot Challenge, a Super Bowl XLIII Challenge (throwing the football through the hands of a cardboard Santonio Holmes), Shuffleboard Golf, a “Big Shot” Challenge (driving your way through the AFC North), a $5,000 Putt Challenge, and a $1 million dollar Shootout (165 yard shot). During the tournament, golfers had the opportunity to try their hand at other competitions along the course, including Poker & Roulette Golf, a Men’s and Women’s Long Drive, the Straight Drive, a “Coffin Corner” on the 9th hole, and a TPC Sawgrass “Island Green” hole on the 17th.
The weather was perfect for a patio lunch buffet provided by the Sewickley Golf Club – sunny and 85 degrees with a slight breeze. Late in the afternoon, after 18 holes of golf, there was a delicious dinner provided inside the Club, where prizes were given for the day’s big winners.
You can see photos from the Invitational here!
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Fundraiser
“I have been playing here for nine years. I love being involved with the community. It’s home to me now. To be able to reach out and do something like this, to have people come out and have fun, is great.” – Ben
The event took place on July 8th, 2012 at Jergels Rhythm Grille, and included both a silent auction and a live auction with proceeds benefiting The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which supplies police and fire agencies throughout the country with K-9′s and rescue dogs, and The Make-A-Wish Foundation!
Teammates Brett Keisel, Heath Miller, James Harrison, and Charlie Batch were there to lend a hand, as was ESPN’s Merril Hoge.
Nobody sees the impact Ben has on the kids more than Leigh Ann Lubarsky, the manager of program services at Make-A-Wish. Lubarsky accompanies the kids on their Steelers visits and knows what it’s all about.
“He brings a unique perspective because he grants wishes and he is good at that,” said Lubarsky. “He gets to make the wish happen. Now with the partnership with his foundation he takes it to the next step. He is a wish granter, but is taking it to the next level to make other wishes granted. It’s an amazing thing.”
You can see more photos from the event here.
Message for Julia –
In June, 2012, during Ben’s Youth Football Camp, he was made aware of a very special fan fighting cancer. Julia Pollock was in the hospital for 52 days before being released and is recuperating at home. Ben sent her a short video message he made while she was in the hospital hoping it would lift her spirits.
Julia’s family wanted Ben’s fans to see how much it meant to her.
*If you can’t see the video here, you can watch it here.
Julia’s reaction to his videotaped message:
*If you can’t see the video here, you can watch it here.
From Julia herself:
Hello my name is Julia Pollock.
I battled breast cancer in 2010. In January 2011 I thought I had won the battle, but unfortunately I had not. The cancer is now in my spine and affecting my brain. They say it is terminal. I’m 38 hrs old and refuse to accept that. I still have so much I need to do.
I want Ben to know that his video email meant the world to me not just because I bleed black and gold and watching him every Sunday makes my week but because I’ve ALWAYS known him to be a man with a good heart. When I received the message I was in the hospital and I swear that was the moment I realized I had to fight like I was playing those dumb Ravens in a playoff game. Lol. After 52 days bed ridden in the hospital I am home with my family in Brighton,CO. I’m getting stronger everyday. I guess you could say this is my training camp.
I worked at a hardware store in Steamboat Springs, CO. We employee 45 or so employees. When they all saw the video message they reacted as I did with one exception. They all turned to Steeler Nation or better yet Ben Nation. Every Saturday at work I dress in my jersey for pre-game day. I’ve done this for 6 years. I have had to endure a lot from all my friends and customers. I never would have thought that one genuine and heart felt message could change all of their minds and that they are using words like classy, stand up, awesome and great guy when using Ben in a sentence. Thank you sooo much for your gift. I will treasure it forever.
I know your busy getting ready for the season which is why I’m taken back by your act of kindness. My sister was able to get tickets for her and I to go see you play the Broncos on Sunday night opener. Even though she was only able to get the 2 tickets and my whole family can’t go I’m beyond excited. I’ll be the one yelling and cheering you guys on to a victory in a hostile Bronco crowd wearing my Big Ben jersey with pride. The least I can do after you cheered me on. Thank you with all my heart. I do truly do believe the Lord works in mysterious ways and miracles happen. I have to, I’m a Steeler fan, right?
Thank you so much to Julia, and to her father Alan Nagy! God bless you!
Update: Julia is doing well since she was released from the hospital. She is living with her parents and getting stronger every day.
You can see the latest photo of her and read her personal update here.
June 18-19, 2012 – Ben’s 2012 Youth Football Camp was a big success once again! There was a lot of energy out on the field as 500 kids took part! Ben not only ran around the field coaching all the groups for the two-day camp, he also threw a pass to every child!
“I’ve always had a spot in my heart for the kids and to see the joy on their face when they’re throwing a pass to get a completion and get a high five. It’s just awesome to me,” he said.
The kids weren’t the only ones excited! Many parents sent emails praising both Pro-Camps and Ben:
“Today was absolutely amazing,” said mom Michelle Rodi. “Ben was SO involved with the kids and he didn’t rush anyone through anything. The main “MC/Coach” running it was awesome. He did such an amazing job. Can’t wait until tomorrow. My son Tommy, was so excited to catch Ben’s pass to him!!!! I could go on and on…..it’s just put together that well!!! Thanks to all involved!!”
More parents and grandparents shared their thoughts here.
Photos from the camp can be enjoyed here.
2012 Big 33 Classic Chairman: Ben Roethlisberger
In 2003, Ben led the Miami Red Hawks to an unbeaten record in the MAC, a No. 10 ranking in the Associated Press poll, and a 49-28 victory over Louisville in the 2003 GMAC Bowl.
His number was retired by the Red Hawks in 2007 – becoming only the third athlete in Miami football history to have his jersey number retired. It was the first time in 34 years Miami retired a football jersey number. Just last month, Ben was selected as one of six individuals to be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame later this year.
Ben was on hand for the entire Big 33 weekend. He hosted an event photo above) on Friday evening and spent time on Saturday night on the field, in the stands, and in the broadcast booth during the game.
You can see photos from the event and game here.
November, 2011 – Heinz Field – CASA Champions for Children Event. 250 kids are served by CASA, short for Court Appointed Special Advocates, in Allegheny County. CASA works with children in the child welfare system that are neglected or abused. The advocates serve as a voice for the children in court and other situations to help ensure that every child has a safe, supportive and permanent home.
The Steelers and CASA have teamed up thanks to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, whose wife Chris is a CASA volunteer. Wallace, Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger kicked off the night by attending a dinner with sponsors, giving them the opportunity to hear April speak.
“Kids are neglected in Allegheny County way too much,” said Roethlisberger. “These things help get those kids out of bad situations and put them into places where they can thrive and strive. These kids are in tough situations. If I can help them out I will do that.”
You can read more here.
October, 2011 – The Steelers and Big Ben “Make A Wish” come true. Trenton Lockhart is a 15-year-old who loves football, his family and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But unlike many other teenagers, Trenton has a form of autism that prevents him from grabbing and throwing objects like a football.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation helped Trenton enjoy the sport he loves and meet his favorite player, Ben Roethlisberger.
You can watch video of WTAP-Channel 5 reporter Rich Donnelly’s story on this young man here.
At the 2011 Project Bundle Up event on October 11th, Steelers players took the kids shopping at Macy’s at Ross Park Mall as a part of a Salvation Army program that provides winter outerwear for needy children in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“It’s so nice outside today and they are saying, ‘I don’t want a coat, it’s not cold,’” said Ben Roethlisberger, who was joined by his wife Ashley. “But it’s nice to know when the winter comes and the snow is here they will be warm. It’s an awesome thing. And it’s so much fun once you get them under control and realize what they need. We enjoyed picking out stuff and I hope they did.”
The kids were able to select a winter coat, as well as a hat, scarf and gloves, and in many cases players purchased extra items for them, from socks to sweatshirts, bringing plenty of joy to the youngsters.
You can read more about the event here. Photos here.
Ben & Ashley share the beauty from their July 23, 2011 wedding
Floral arrangements made from their wedding and reception were delivered to the Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, both in Lawrenceville, as well as the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh in Bloomfield and The Children’s Institute in Squirrel Hill.
“There were a lot of them,” said Rachel Check, owner of Hepatica, the Regent Square florist the Roethlisbergers hired. “That’s why so many people were able to enjoy them.”
Flowers used in the wedding and reception included roses, orchids and hydrangeas.
Hepatica regularly donates arrangements to hospitals and charities after events and weddings, but Check said leftovers from Saturday’s wedding provided more than usual. She declined to say how many arrangements were delivered this week.
You can see photos from their wedding here.
The 2011 Ben Roethlisberger Football Camp
Ben hosted 500 children at his Youth Football Camp in June. According to parents and grandparents, the 2-day Camp was a big success and their youngsters enjoyed every minute.
Video from Day 1 of Ben’s Camp, from Nick Sampson at Quest for the Continent Productions:
Another fun video from Day 2 of Ben’s Football Camp:
10 things Garth Brooks missed at the Ben Roethlisberger Football Camp:
Be sure to check out Ben’s message to big Steelers fan and Camp supporter Garth Brooks at the end of the video!!
“The Footballers” Basketball Team took on the Hampton High School Faculty in a friendly game of basketball for a good cause on April 14th, 2011. Proceeds from the sold-out game benefit the Hampton High School senior class.
Ben and several of his Steelers teammates, including Brett Keisel, Nick Eason and Ryan Mundy took to the hardwood in front of a packed audience for a little spirited competition on the court!
Once again, Ben served up some good cheer and great food over the holidays at Ronald McDonald House in Pittsburgh.
On December 31, 2010, approximately forty children, including siblings, enjoyed a delicious New Year’s Eve dinner that included a menu of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, different salads, tortelli, and some very yummy desserts.
According to Leslie Montgomery of Ronald McDonald House, “The families had a wonderful time at their holiday feast and enjoyed every last bite. There weren’t even leftovers and they loved the desserts.”
Sixty families from all over the United States, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, South Carolina and Vermont enjoyed the holiday meal together. There was also a family from Egypt and one from Kuwait who enjoyed the festivities so far from home.
The families were “overwhelmed” and a good time was had by all!
On Tuesday, October 26, 2010, Steelers’ players took 46 kids from the New Kensington Salvation Army shopping at Macy’s at Ross Park Mall as a part of Project Bundle-Up, a Salvation Army program that provides winter outerwear for needy children in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“Do you see the hat we just picked out?” said Ben Roethlisberger. “That’s how much fun it is. We get to shop and hang out and have a lot of fun. We all need warm stuff, especially in the winter.”
Heather Hannan, a spokeswoman for Macy’s, said the company has been participating in Project Bundle-Up since 2001.
“It’s an event this store embraces,” Hannan said.
Each child received a $75 gift card to buy a hat, coat and gloves. Hannan said players have paid for additional items, too.
“This is the best day of my life!” Javon Wade, 9, of Arnold, said as he waited for defensive end Brett Keisel to sign one of the promotional Steelers programs distributed to all the kids.– From articles at Steelers.com and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 27, 2010.
Heath Miller’s Bid for Hope event
Heath and his wife Katie hosted the event on October 18, 2010 at Bossa Nova. It was sponsored through A Glimmer of Hope and proceeds benefited the “Under Forty Breast Cancer Study”.
Some of their guests included teammates Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Keisel, Hines Ward, James Farrior, Keyaron Fox, Matt Spaeth, Jeff Reed, and Max Starks.
“Anything we can do for this cause, to raise awareness and money, we will do,” said Ben Roethlisberger. “It affects so many lives and we want to help. I am all for it. I wear the pink shoes in practice and the game. This month is a great time for us to show our support and raise money for a sad disease.” – From an article at Steelers.com, October 19, 2010.
The Thomas Jefferson Jaguars trip to the Big Dawg Bowl
The Little Jaguars almost didn’t get to play in the bowl, which is hosted by Steelers fan and rapper Snoop Dogg, because of finances. That is where Ben Roethlisberger stepped in by paying all of the travel expenses for the team and coaches, continuing the commitment the NFL and Steelers have with youth football.
“He said he sponsored us because these kids love to play football and I want to give them the chance. The fact that we won it for him was awesome. He said these kids love the game and I want to give them the opportunity. If everyone would adopt that approach it couldn’t be anything but positive.” – Jim Nassida, Jaguars Football Coach
“Behind the scenes at the [Shaq Vs] TV shoot, Mr. Roethlisberger was hosting young patients from the Ronald McDonald House, giving special attention to a transplant patient from Kenya, a young boy who did not know who the football superstar was.
“He has supported the charity since early in his career, when he began paying for catered Christmas and New Year’s feasts at the Shadyside facility. Lately he has taken on more responsibility, becoming the honorary chairman of its capital campaign. A portion of sales proceeds from his barbecue sauce goes to the charity.” – From an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 2009.
“A teen with a life-threatening illness had her wish to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers granted through Kids Wish Network and the generosity of Big Ben and the Steelers.” – Madeline Robinson, Kids Wish Network, January 4, 2010.
“More than anything, Rick wanted to meet the team’s star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. When he walked through the door, Rick’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. Big Ben gave a speechless Rick a huge hug. Rick’s mom said, “If you would have seen that, you would have had a tear in your eye. Rick didn’t have a lot to say, but that hug said it all.”
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Akeem
Seconds after 14-year-old Akeem Havens said he hoped to meet Ben Roethlisberger, the Pro Bowl quarterback walked into the media room at the Steelers’ South Side facility on Thursday.
With a black playbook in his hand and a perturbed look on his face, Roethlisberger said to his newest teammate, “Hey, what’s going on here? We don’t have time for this. We have practice. Are you ready to practice?”
“Let’s go,” Havens said with a smile.
It was one of the highlights in a day filled with them for Havens, who since a car wreck at age 7 has been a quadriplegic and has experienced kidney failure. — From an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 30, 2008.
John Challis Courage for Life Foundation
“I’m here for John and his family and the good things they’re doing through their foundation. I’m glad that I got to know John. He was really a great kid. I got to spend time with him a couple times when he came to training camp. And he was up with us in Mario Lemieux’s booth for one of the Penguins’ playoff games two years ago.
“I jumped at the idea to play today because it’s for a good cause.” – Ben, during a charity golf outing for John’s Foundation, June 28, 2010.
“It was great to have Ben here today. Ben brought a lot of positive energy. He was very kind, very friendly and very interested in our mission.” – Jodi Jaworowski, Challis’ aunt and the president of the Courage for Life Foundation, talks about Ben’s participation in their charity golf outing.
Ben led a team of NFL superstars in a football camp for Special Olympics athletes in Washington, D.C. on April 16th, 2009. The clinic is one of a series of charity efforts organized by the National Football League and its players’ union on behalf of the Special Olympics.
Ben was honored on April 16th, 2009 with an award by the league and its partners for his community service.
For the past three years, Ben has raised money for his former high school’s athletic department in Findlay, Ohio by playing in a charity basketball game in a team comprised of fellow Steelers teammates versus some standout local high school basketball players. In 2009, he was joined on the court by his sister Carlee, who plays for the Oklahoma University women’s team.
The event has raised over $70,000.
Ben has served as an Honorary Chair in Pittsburgh for the Alliance Against Highly Addictive Drugs, for which he made multiple appearances to meet middle school and high school students and promote an anti-drug lifestyle.
2007 Ed Block Courage Award
The Courage House Awards are given annually to a current Pittsburgh Steelers player and a Holy Family Institute alumnus who both have shown extraordinary courage in overcoming challenges in their personal lives or careers.
Athletes for Hope
“Personally, I feel obligated to give back to my community. I can’t speak for other athletes, but like both Jeff and Mario said, athletes are given so much by their community, that it is only right that they give back in spades. I was raised to appreciate my blessings and always try to help others who may not be as fortunate. I feel honored to be able to do so. My particular passion is helping police and firefighters, as it is important that they have the proper resources needed for them to protect their communities and be able to return home to their families each day. By providing police and fire department canine units in Pittsburgh and each NFL city I visit, I look to give back in a unique way that benefits every community that has touched my life. I am grateful for the opportunity. ” – Ben, on the Athletes for Hope website.
American Library Association
He also took some time to read to young students. Click on the link above for photos.
An 8-year-old boy suffering from a devastating disease got a Steelers-sized wish granted last night. Joseph DeBacco got to meet his idol, Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during a very special taping of the PNC Hines Ward Show.
Joseph, who was only given a 10- to 15-percent chance to live, was ecstatic when he found out he would be meeting Big Ben face-to-face.
“I want to have him sign my jersey and I feel awesome.” – From an article on KDKA, December, 2007.
Ben’s challenge to his fellow NFL players
On December 26, 2005, a tsunami caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean killed over 150,000 people.
Prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Steelers and the New York Jets, Ben announced he would donate his game check to the Tsunami Relief Fund.
“I’ll donate my game check to the Tsunami Relief Fund and hopefully it will be a challenge for other people to do the same. A game check isn’t anything like the Yankees donating a million dollars. But everything they can get helps. And hopefully, this is a challenge for other players to do it as well.”
As a league, the NFL has already donated $1 million to the tsunami relief fund through various fund-gathering projects. Steelers owner Dan Rooney said he expects the NFL and all 32 teams in the league to contribute even more.
“Ben’s a wonderful kid and obviously we’re proud that he plans to donate his paycheck to the tsunami fund,” Rooney said. “We’re looking into doing something (as a franchise). I do think something should be done.”
Coach Bill Cowher approved, “It’s a heck of a gesture on Ben’s part. It says a lot about the kid to do something like that. But like I’ve said all along, this kid has a great perspective on things. This is another example of it.” – From an article in the Beaver County Times, December, 2005.
Over the past three years, Ben’s endorsements with “Big Ben’s BBQ” has helped raise close to $150,000 for various charitable organizations. His likeness appears on five flavors of Big Ben’s BBQ Sauce and three fully-cooked meats that are sold in local stores.
“Ben has been great with the fund-raising. I have nothing but positive things to say from our experiences with Ben.” — Company owner John Kosko.