Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was honored at the Pittsburgh American Ireland Fund Dinner Gala at Heinz Field on Saturday, March 15.
Crosby received the AIF Chairman’s Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership in community and charitable activities. He is the first athlete to receive the AIF Chairman’s Award. AIF has honored only one other sports figure – former Steelers Coach Bill Cowher, in 1998.
Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and David Morehouse, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins, served as dinner chairmen for the event. The “green tie and tux” dinner was held at Heinz Field East Club Lounge.
“Crosby is an impressive young man and he’s already made a great impact on the city of Pittsburgh,” Rooney said.
Funds raised at the annual event support programs promoting peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community in Ireland, both north and south. Since its inception, the organization has raised $300 million.
Crosby is greatly involved in the Penguins generous efforts for charities such as Make a Wish, Children’s Hospital, Project Bundle Up and Cystic Fibrosis. His personal commitment to the community includes the purchase of a suite for Penguins games, which is donated to area children’s charities.
Crosby was the first pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and one of the leading scorers during the 2005-2006 season. He captured his first Art Ross Trophy in the 2006-2007 season, becoming the youngest player and the only teenager ever to win a scoring title in any major North American sports league. He is only the seventh player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award in the same season. For the second year in a row, Crosby was the overwhelming top pick for the 2008 NHL all-star game, garnering 507,274 fan votes.
This year marked the 32nd anniversary of The Ireland Fund, founded in Pittsburgh in 1976 by Sir Anthony J.F. O’Reilly, former chairman of the H.J. Heinz Co. and Daniel M. Rooney, chairman and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The American Ireland Fund as it is known today is the result of a merger in 1987 between The Ireland Fund and the American Irish Federation, which was founded in 1963 by President John. F. Kennedy and Eamon de Valera, then president of Ireland.
Previous Chairman’s Award recipients include: Archbishop Donald Wuerl, U.S. Congressman John P. Murtha, David M. Roderick, James E. Rohr, Henry & Elsie Hillman & the Hillman family, Jeffrey A. Romoff, Martiin G. MCGuinn, The John F. & Rhodora J. Donahue Family, William R. Johnson, Bill Cowher, Frank V. Cahouet, Joseph J. Bogdanovich, Robert & Lois Wholey, Sir Anthony J.F. O’Reilly, Daniel M. Rooney & the Rooney Family, Dr. George J. Magovern Sr., Paul Lego, Thomas H. O’Brien, and John E. Connelly.