But on Thursday night the softer side of Keisel was on display, as he hosted the Cystic Fibrosis 65 Roses Sports Auction, spending time visiting with children with the disease as well as raising funds to help find a cure for the disease.
“It’s for these kids tonight,” said Keisel. “I have been able to develop some relationships with young children who have cystic fibrosis and are doing great. I am proud of them and their fight. Helping these kids out who have to deal with it every day is what it’s all about. It’s tough for them and their families. You talk to them and you don’t know they have it, they look radiant, beautiful and happy and it makes me smile to see them that way.”
Keisel was joined by 10 of his teammates at the event, signing autographs for those in attendance.
“We are raising money and awareness for children with cystic fibrosis and it’s making a difference,” said Keisel. “That is my favorite part. They tell me each year that we are getting closer to a cure and that is why we do this. The more awareness we can bring to it the closer we are to getting a cure.”
For nine-year old Sydney Willig, who was diagnosed with the disease at two weeks old and is this year’s Cystic Fibrosis Ambassador, and her family it means the world to have someone like Keisel show such compassion for those with CF.
“We have fought CF every single day,” said her mother, Lisa Willig. “With everyone here and the support of the Steelers organization and especially Brett Keisel, we just can’t thank them enough for putting some really important faces near and dear to our hearts.”
Sydney, who like every other kid loves to play sports, couldn’t stop smiling after meeting Keisel.
“It’s great because it helps you get over it and it makes it fun for you,” said Sydney Willig. “I am glad they do because it gives us more money and the more money we have we can get more medicine.”
A live and silent auction filled with Steelers and other sports memorabilia also were a highlight of the night, but it was Keisel and his teammates that made had the biggest impact.
“I can’t tell you what the Steelers have done to put a face to this disease,” said Pat Joseph, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis. “That is very important because we need to raise awareness as well as funds if we are going to end this.
“When you have a guy who is a leader on the field and he steps off the field and plays a role in an organization like ours, it’s amazing. He leads our families out of a desperate area where they feel like he is on our team, we are not by ourselves, Brett Keisel is helping us. It means the world to our organization and the patients and families that battle this.”
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