Enjoying a four-course meal at an upscale restaurant is not something that happens often for inner city school students, but on Monday night it did for some football players from Perry Traditional Academy, part of the Pittsburgh Public School system, thanks to the efforts of Steelers Chris Carter and Jonathan Dwyer.
The high school players took part in a mentoring session that Carter and Dwyer hosted at Capital Grille in Pittsburgh, rewarding them for their achievements on and off the field and providing them encouragement to continue to become better individuals and athletes.
“It was for kids from the inner city schools who might not be as privileged as others,” said Carter. “I grew up like that so it hits home with me. They are going through some things and sometimes they don’t have the resources or the people to talk to, sometimes you don’t know anybody who is in the situation where you want to be.
“Growing up I had big dreams to be in the NFL but I didn’t have anybody to talk to. I remember how much I would have appreciated someone mentoring me, giving me advice and guidance. That is what we are trying to do, help these kids by talking about relationships, family, school and dedication to their sport. All of that is necessary to get to this level and contribute to their success. We want to give them something to think about.”
Dwyer and Carter let the young men ask them whatever questions they wanted, and they were able to answer them from someone who was once in their shoes.
“It was an opportunity for us to spend time with kids who look up to us for guidance and want a role model to help them,” said Dwyer. “It was a chance for us to give advice to these kids. I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet guys at the level I am playing at to get their advice and sit down and meet with them and get that extra edge to live my dream as well.”
While they shared the hard work and dedication it took to get to where they are today, the players were also forthcoming sharing some of the pitfalls along the way, assuring them that while you might stumble, you can always get back up again.
“We opened up and let them know we are normal people and you just have to work hard to get to where you are,” said Carter. “But the biggest thing is them understanding we made plenty of mistakes and you can rebound from them. You are never stuck in a situation, you can always get out. Coach (Mike) Tomlin tells us all of the time how do you get out of a hole. The first step is to stop digging and the second step is to stand up. You are never stuck in a situation. There is always a way out.
“That is what we wanted to get across to them. They might not have the support they need, might have different distractions, everybody lives a different life, but there is still a path for them to get to the top and get to where they want to be.”