On Monday night, the Steelers and the Pittsburgh Catholic Youth Association (CYA) teamed up to do something that would have made Art Rooney Sr. smile.
During an event that usually honors some of the top names in the corporate, sports, and media worlds, the two organizations have partnered to honor those who have meant most to the city of Pittsburgh over the past year and more.
The annual Art Rooney Awards dinner is usually a who’s who of the Pittsburgh community, honoring names we’re all familiar with. But this year everyone involved in the annual dinner that goes to the CYA knew that they had to take a different path.
“Typically, the winners in all categories are industry leaders, people with long business careers and established community leaders,” said Mary Ann Heneroty, CEO of CYA. “This year we said who is on the front lines trying to keep our society alive, to keep people alive. It was the nurses, groceries, child minders. That’s something special for them. “
It was Art Rooney Sr., whose Catholic faith was at the forefront of his life, who saw the CYA struggling financially in the 1970s. He knew he had to step in and help one of his favorite charities to make sure they could get on with their mission. Out of this passion, the Art Rooney Award Dinner was born, an annual event that benefits the CYA. It is an event that embodied what Art Rooney Sr., affectionately known as “The Chief,” believed in and that the Steelers and the Rooney family are still passionate about.
Dinner has always boosted the Pittsburgh Champions’ honor, and this year those champions included 50 frontline staff from nurses to childcare workers, teachers, pharmacists, grocery stores, waitresses, respiratory therapists, and more.
Each of the 50 winners received the Art Rooney Award as Pittsburgh Front Hero 2021 at Heinzfeld by Dan Rooney, son of Steelers President Art Rooney II and great-grandson of Art Rooney Sr., during the event at the FedEx Great Hall.
“It’s a nice thought at a difficult time when teamwork and helping others have never been more important,” said Rooney. “The frontline workers represent this fully. When the country was really closed, they were the ones leading the charges and moving us forward. Paying tribute to everyone who has supported the healthcare effort and then at the forefront. ”Makes perfect sense to the organization.
“This is such a good thing and something I understand, The Chief, who I’ve never met but heard a lot of stories about how passionate he was for this charity and a platform he felt strong for.”
The award winners, also thanked by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, were guests of the Steelers at the team’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions, another way to say thank you.
“I think when The Chief started 48 years ago, every single award we gave was the foundation for people to do good for their neighborhood, our city and our region,” said Michael Bartley, the evening’s host , a board member of CYA and president of Bartley Media. “Who better to honor this time around. You took a risk to deliver goods and services to protect us from getting sick and perhaps dying during this scary time. Honoring our front-line heroes while Covid is in the Pittsburgh area the perfect extension of what we are doing with the Art Rooney Award.
“This could be the most extraordinary event we have ever hosted. You are so excited about tonight and you feel honored, this is really special about this evening. It’s not about CYA, it’s not about the Steelers, it’s about Ours These are the real people who believed they were helping a neighbor and protecting us. “