Each summer the Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni Association hosts a golf tournament in an effort to raise funds for local children’s charities.
After the Alumni Association’s 2011 Charity Golf Classic, they were delighted to learn that one of their selected charities, the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, utilized event proceeds to purchase a new shuttle bus for their school. The bright blue shuttle bus was then decorated with decals designed by the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf graphic
design/printing program to include the school’s crest, a lion to represent their mascot, and a special thank you to the Penguins Alumni.
Many of the students at the school are residential students who live on campus from Sunday evening to Fridays throughout the school year and those students are transported by the school each week. To Don Rhoten, the Chief Executive Officer for the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, the arrival of the shuttle bus occurred at an opportune time as the school’s student body continues to grow and the need for wheelchair accessible transportation increases. “Before we had the shuttle bus, the students were being transported to Williamsport in a van,” said Rhoten. “Our numbers were growing and the van became more and more uncomfortable. We wanted to buy something larger, more comfortable and that was wheelchair accessible.”
Rhoten was delighted with the new shuttle bus and said the response from his students was outstanding. “They were blown away; they loved it! I have a poster outside my office with a picture of the shuttle bus along with the signatures and comments from all the kids who ride it, thanking me for making it possible. I don't plan to take down that poster anytime soon.”
Even better for Rhoten was the safety and comfort of his students in comparison to their old bus. “While the "cool" factor is important, the kids now have a safe and comfortable means of transportation for the three hour trip to Williamsport. Plus, we use it for field trips locally and
sports events. It's a "cool" ride!”
Penguins Alumni members were equally enthusiastic in their reactions. Ken Wregget, President of the Penguins Alumni Association, said with a smile, “We know that the charities that benefit from our grants use the funds to help their organizations in the best ways possible, but it was great to learn what the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf did and see photos of the shuttle bus.”
“We’re proud that our donation was able to help the students at the school in such a direct fashion and humbled at their appreciation,” Wregget said. “Our connection with the school is rather personal as one of our own, Phil Bourque, had a child attend. It’s a good feeling to provide an assist for the facility where my friend and former teammate’s daughter attended school!”
Phil Bourque echoed Wregget’s sentiments. “I think the main reason the Alumni selected the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf as one of our beneficiaries is because of my connection through my daughter. She was born deaf and this was a group that reached out to me, helped me; a group that is local and their hearts are in the right place. We knew that any donation would be going to something tangible to help the children directly.”
Bourque was delighted with the school’s shuttle bus, but not surprised that they would decide to use the funds on something that the children would utilize each day. “I’ve toured the school; I’ve met the teachers and staff. I know they are doing everything they possibly can with what they are given to make life as normal as possible for kids with this kind of deficiency.”
Each member of the Penguins Alumni Association can feel proud of what their efforts have accomplished and know that this school is incredibly grateful for their support.
“The entire Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf family is proud of our association with the Penguins Alumni. We're humbled to be a recipient of their generosity and thrilled that we were considered. All the folks we've worked with have been "first class” and the golf outing is the best of its kind,” said Rhoten. “All the alumni are fun to be around and truly good people.”
When asked if he could pass along a message to the Penguins Alumni Association on behalf of the school, Rhoten did not hesitate. “Thanks, thanks, and thanks, again! I wish they all could have seen the faces of students and staff when they first saw their new shuttle bus. Their generosity and support directly benefits some great kids!”