NFL: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Oct 28, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (left) and linebacker T.J. Watt share a laugh together before playing the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Peachtree Ridge grad Cameron Heyward has been named Week 9 NFLPA Community MVP for raising $200,000 at The Heyward House Homecoming to benefit the various outreach programs carried out by his Heyward House Foundation throughout the year. 

“It’s a true honor to receive NFLPA Community MVP,” Heyward said in a press release. “My motivation is to give back and help the community succeed. Everyone has a part in helping our youth and I look forward to doing my part.” 

On Nov. 4, the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman hosted his fifth annual fundraiser gala for the Heyward House, but with a twist. The Carnegie Science Center was transformed into a college homecoming with a marching band, cornhole, upscale tailgate food and plenty of school spirit as attendees were encouraged to wear attire representing their alma mater. 

All the money raised during the unique event will go towards continuing the mission of The Heyward House, which was founded in 2015 to positively impact youth and help those in need. Some of the ways that the charity changes lives for the better are:

Cameron Heyward Birthday Bash: An annual party filled with fun and games for less fortunate kids who are often forgotten on their birthdays.

Blessings In A Backpack: A partnership with Urban Pathways Charter School in Pittsburgh that provides backpacks filled with healthy food and snacks for students in need to have each weekend during the school year.

“Pittsburgh Is Stronger Than Cancer” T-shirt fundraiser: In honor of his late father and former NFL player, Craig, who died of brain cancer, Heyward’s T-shirts raise money to generate awareness, help with research and aid families dealing with hardships often created by treatment.

Craig’s Closet: A program that provides suits, shirts, ties and other necessities for young men in the Pittsburgh area who don’t have the means to attain formal attire for key occasions. 

The nine-year veteran and Steelers alternate player rep has engaged in numerous other selfless acts throughout his NFL career, including a Thanksgiving turkey drive through the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank with his teammates and local police officers as well as his work with the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to help children with severe asthma, something he battles with himself.

In honor of Heyward being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to a foundation or charity of his choice. Also, supporting partner Pledge It has set up a crowdfunding campaign called for “Sacks For Kids” to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. Supporters can either pledge contributions based on every sack by Heyward this season, or they can make a flat donation at the following website: pledgeit.org/sacksforkids.

Heyward, along with the other 2019 Community MVPs, will become eligible for this year’s Alan Page Community Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.

The NFLPA Community MVP program recognizes NFL players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week during the regular season, the NFLPA will celebrate one NFL player who has demonstrated a commitment to giving back to his community.