On a brisk Saturday morning at Heinz Field, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma stopped to chat with his good friend, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, in the street just outside the stadium.
While the thousands of people around them seemed to indicate otherwise, Bylsma and Hurdle weren’t there to tailgate before a Steelers home game. They were there to participate in a special cause – the American Heart Association’s 2012 Heart Walk, which is the organization’s premier annual fundraising event.
A total of 23 Pittsburgh Penguins employees and their families formed a group to partake in the walk, with Bylsma serving as the team captain. Together, the Penguins team raised $1,355 for the cause, helping the AHA raise over $1 million for the third consecutive year.
“It was a unique opportunity on a Saturday in November to have the chance to come out, and there’s a huge number of people here for the American Heart Association and the walk and the awareness,” Bylsma said, who was accompanied by his wife Mary Beth. “We have a number of people from all around the Pittsburgh Penguins organization here out today to walk, and with some of the other people in the community, it’s a great thing.”
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans, and this walk helps people take a stand and help save lives. It’s a cause that’s especially important to the Penguins, as last year, team vice president and controller Kevin Hart served on the Heart Walk Executive Leadership Team in Pittsburgh with other community leaders to show the region’s employers the importance of companies being actively engaged in making Pittsburgh a healthier place to live and work.
“It’s nice to be able to do something as an organization to give back the community,” said James Santilli, Penguins vice president of marketing. “This is a great event raising a lot of money for an outstanding cause. So to have so many of our employees here led by coach Dan makes for great day.”
Bylsma, who kept up a brisk pace throughout the entire 5K walk, stopped many times along the route to take pictures with participants. At the end, he and Mary Beth stretched out a red American Heart Association jump rope for the Penguins employees to playfully “break” through like a ribbon at the finish line to signify the end of what really was a great day.
“I don’t know if there’s a bigger heart or bigger give in any community I’ve ever been in than Pittsburgh,” Bylsma said.