View Full Version : Steelers embrace Upper Big Branch Mine Kin.

06-10-2010, 11:33 AM
Two months after a powerful explosion killed 29 miners and injured two at Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va., the victims' families still break into tears when talking about their loved ones.

Yesterday offered a reprieve.

Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward welcomed about 20 relatives of the dead miners to his South Side bar Wednesday afternoon. He and several teammates including Troy Polamalu, Jeff Reed, Casey Hampton, Antwaan Randle El and Heath Miller signed autographs, posed for photos, offered hugs and assured the grieving family members that Steeler Nation cares about West Virginia's coal miners.

"Besides my wife and kids, this is the best thing that ever happened to me," said Christopher John, 35, of Beckley, the nephew of Joel "Jody" Price, who died in the April 5 blast at Massey Energy Co.'s mine. "We're just trying to get on, man. Every day is hard, but everybody is pulling together. This helps."

Ward threw together the late lunch after it became clear that rain would cancel his charity softball game last night in Green Tree. He extended an invitation to the victims' families and planned to honor them before the first pitch.

"It hit hard to see a tragedy like that hit so close to home," Ward said. "I'm sensitive to these families. I know what they do and how they risk everything on a daily basis going into those mines. I just want to shine a light on what they're doing."

Not every family member at South Side 86 was a Steelers fan a fact none would admit on the record but all said they were touched by the players' gesture.

"This gives us some kind of peace, for a little while," said Miki Rogers, 28, of Oak Hill, whose father, William Roosevelt Lynch, 59, died in the explosion, the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in 40 years. "It gives us a break from all the phone calls, from the people stopping over to check on you. And for my son (Jasiah, 5), he sees Mommy sad a lot, so it gives him a break, too."

Hillary King, 18, of Charleston lost her cousin, Nicolas McCroskey, 26, in Upper Big Branch. She went from whispering "This is sooo cool!" in her friend's ear while Ward spoke to the group, to crying moments later when talking about her cousin.

"He was like my brother," King said. "You try to realize that they would want you to live your life. You honor them by living your life."

Gene Jones of Beckley lost his identical twin, Edward Dean Jones, 50.

"My brother was a part of me," Jones said. "Half of me is gone now. I think about him every day, every day, all the time.

"But it is wonderful of them to do something like this for us. It means a lot that they'd think of the West Virginia coal miners and their families.

This right here is why I love the Steelers. They didnt have to do something like this but they did.

06-10-2010, 12:32 PM
CLASS ACT right there. I continue to be impressed with how some of these guys do business or should I say how they embrace the community!

06-10-2010, 12:47 PM
Hines Ward and the guys always seem to impress me in some way. Just when I think he has done it all he does something classy like this. Hats off to Ward for having the heart he does!

06-10-2010, 03:13 PM
That's very nice to see that the Steelers are doing things like this for the public, kudos guys kudos. :tt02:

06-10-2010, 04:24 PM
One more example of why the Steelers are the classiest organization in football.

06-10-2010, 05:18 PM
Hines Ward epitomizes what every professional athelete should strive to be. He gives his whole heart on the field and off the field.

06-10-2010, 05:24 PM
CLASS ACT right there. I continue to be impressed with how some of these guys do business or should I say how they embrace the community!

Class act to the tenth power. WTG guys, you are awesome!