By Mike Longo Jr.
Oftentimes actions speak louder than words no matter your physical stature, employment or financial status. Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Lineman Cameron Heyward is the epitome of that sentence on and off the playing field.
Heyward, a mountain of a man with a heart as big as the rest of him, not only has a passion for football, he has a passion for helping, caring and sharing. This could be the reason in 2015 the nonprofit organization, "The Heyward House" came to fruition.
Overwhelming events since childhood would have made lesser people crumble. Through it all Heyward persevered, dealing with severe asthma, loss of his father and being raised with his brothers in a single-parent household.
Heyward takes nothing for granted, good or bad. He lives by this motto. Just because someone else doubts what your future holds you should never let that stop you. He is very passionate about speaking that message.
The Heyward House fights for so many entities. Among the causes, are childhood hunger, fighting cancer, childhood literacy, students and teachers, Craig's Closet, Suiting Up For Success, Chess Camp, back-to-school events and the Heyward Performance Center.
For the past three years, there’s also been the Cam Heyward Three Rivers Celebrity Softball Classic. In 2021 the event raised about $10,000.
It blossomed in 2022 to raise $50,000, and this year's event is still being tallied awaiting a final total with the hope of besting last year's amount.
Hosted by Heyward – along with West Allegheny, Pitt and NFL star, Dorian Dickerson the matchup was again held at Washington Wild Things Park.
Cost was a mere $15 and $30 if you wished to partake in the pregame "Terrible Tailgate" complete with food and drink. A small price for a worthwhile event.
The game format was "Team Burgh" vs "Team World" in a show of softball strength, with the grand finale being a Home Run Derby Contest.
Burgh's roster included not only Heyward and Dickerson but teammates and fellow Steelers Alex Highsmith, Pat Freiermuth, Connor Heyward, Vince Williams, Kenny Pickett, along with other NFL stars and Dance Mom Star Paige Hyland.
World's roster was led by Seahawks Kenneth Walker III and other NFL stars, WWE Superstar Raquel Rodriguez, Jersey Jerry from “Barstool Sports,” UFC Fighter Clay Guida, “Love is Blind” Actress Danielle Ruhl and Miss USA, Morgan Romano.
This talent-laden sold-out event pleased fans of all ages. It did not disappoint especially on the autograph trail.
Both teams started the contest by playing long ball as home runs on both sides left the ball yard at a frightening pace early.
Former Pitt Panther Jim Medure launched a two-run bomb followed by NFL Lineman Tyson Alualu's blast to give Team World a quick 3-0 lead after a half inning.
Fear not, as Steelers starting Quarterback Pickett answered with a solo homer much to the delight of the fans. Former NFL player and Co-Host Dorian Dickerson went yard, knotting the game at three followed up by another run for a 4-3 lead.
Team World regained the lead in the second inning as Miss USA Morgan Romano scored run number six for a Team World 6-4 lead. In the Team Burgh half of the inning, Pickett went yard again with a two-run shot tying the contest at six. He was two for two with four RBIs. Event Host Heyward drove in a run good for a one-run 7-6 lead.
Team Burgh kicked the game into high gear as both Steelers Conner Heyward and Alex Highsmith launched rockets out of the park. In his final at-bat of the evening, Highsmith belted another long ball deep into the twilight.
With a huge offensive output at the plate, Team Burgh won in convincing fashion by a final score of 16-6.
At the after party so to speak, the Home Run Derby, Team Burgh flexed its muscles by putting on a hitting clinic. Led by Pat Freiermuth and fellow Steeler Pickett who hit three and four bombs respectively. Team Burgh captured the derby crown by a final score of 10-7. Pickett was named the game’s MVP.
Rounding out the evening's fun was the usual gracious speech to the sell-out crowd by Heyward. He commended everyone for their support of his foundation, proclaiming, "Steelers Nation, thank you one and all for being the best fans in the world. We will be back for year four bigger, better and stronger."