By Kim Ravenda
Edited by Andrea Bosco
Sponsored by Huntington
In the fall of 1890, Burt Smyers and his schoolmate, armored loosely in thin cloth and leather, crouched sturdily on a fresh-cut gridiron to participate in the then esoteric sport known as football. Though most of the players had no previous experience with the sport, the impact of the individuals’ determination would echo throughout football history with the birth of a nationally recognized and community vitalizing organization.
As it prepares to celebrate 125 years of excellence on the field, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers football program perhaps shines brightest on the reflection of its student-athletes’ passionate commitment to give back to the community. Pitt places a strong emphasis on developing a culture of community service among its athletes, which has led to several student-organized programs. Last year, Pitt football players participated in more than 20 community service projects and logged more than 1,000 individual service hours with numerous organizations in the region. The team’s community service programs include Read Across America, the Mel Blount Youth Camp, the American Heart Association Healthy Family Training Camp, Blessings in a Backpack, and the Children’s Hospital Honorary Captain Program.
To honor the rich history and traditions of Pitt football, Huntington Bank, the presenting sponsor of the season, is donating $125 for every home game first down to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. The funds will support Children’s Hospital’s Free Care Fund, which ensures that all children within the region receive the expert care they need and deserve, regardless of their family’s insurance or ability to pay. Says President of Huntington Bank, Western Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley Region, Susie Shipley, “The positive impact of the Pitt Panthers football program and Children’s Hospital is deep, and we are proud to bring these two community pillars together to celebrate this historic football season by continuing to give back. “Not only does Children’s Free Care Fund help parents who would otherwise be unable to afford necessary aid for their children, but it also serves as an example that we as a community can come together and make the region a better, healthier place, one child at a time.”
For fundraising information and direct donations, please visit givetochildrens.org/freecarefund.