- Last Updated on Saturday, 30 September 2017 15:34
By Jill Runfola
On a beautiful day outside of Monessen Family Center, 412 Reed Ave., on Thursday, August 24, it was a family event as children and their parents crowded the jam-packed grounds for a Back-to-School Blast, from 5-7 pm. They were gifted with filled backpacks and inspired by Pittsburgh Steelers great Wes Lyons.
|Staff and children enjoyed the event. Pictured are (front, l -r): Ty‘ Naya Youngblood and Marco Bassett and (l-r) Taki Frezzell; Supervisor Kim Egidi; Family Developmental Specialist Jessica Anderson; and Trevian Thompson.|
This event was sponsored by the Monessen Family Center Fatherhood Group, a part of the center and an affiliate of SPHS (Southwestern PA Human Services) and the school district. Donations came from various organizations and churches in the community. Donated items included the prizes for the raffles: soccer balls, basketballs, footballs, art kits, Wal-Mart gift cards, and Kennywood tickets.
Families enjoyed hot dogs, chips, and water. Raven Anderson volunteered his time as DJ of the event. Also, there were games, giveaways, prizes, and water balloons. Children gathered with excitement around past Steelers wide receiver Lyons. He answered questions and signed autographs. The kids really looked up to him, and not just because he is 6’ 8” tall.
Lyons, whose last season with the Steelers was 2012, said, “I played in the NFL for about 3 ½ years, then I pulled my Achilles tendon, which ended my career. Now I own an education company, wrote a book and own a bakery.” He continued, “I started(football) at age 3, and it was all about having fun. When I was 8 years old, I was lifting weights. My father saw success in me…I received scholarships in high school. Sports is a platform for you to meet new people and also play professionally.”
To the crowd, Lyons said, “I used sports—that’s how I gained success.” He noted that people are more likely to buy his book and frequent his bakery because he is a former Pittsburgh Steeler. He talked about handouts: “I’d rather teach the lesson of someone going out and earning the money rather than giving it away.”
|Pittsburgh Steelers former player Wes Lyons is surrounded by children at the Back-to-School Blast.|
The event concluded on a high note and was a success! Family Center Supervisor Kim Egidi said the event is about “just doing something for the community, celebrating the kids going back to school, and acknowledging positive father role models in kids’ lives.” The children had a fantastic time, learned more about the importance of sports, and many backpacks were given away that day.