BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)–Dozens of veterans had their dreams made Monday afternoon after four Pittsburgh Steelers players visited the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home.
This week marks the Veterans Home Week in the state. The state has six different veteran homes serving over 1,300 residents in the home. Residents and families will participate in multiple activities throughout the week, including carnivals and games.
Tight End/Offensive Tackle Larry Brown, offensive tackle Jon Kolb, wide receiver Louis Lipps and Halfback and veteran Rocky Bleier were the four that attended. They each met up with the veterans and signed jerseys and other gear.
The veterans were excited to meet some of the familiar faces of their lifetime. President of the Resident Council Ronald Dawson said that he remembers watching the players back in the day. He said it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet these players in person.
“It’s been a wonderful experience. I played football myself but not at that level,” Dawson said. “Rocky Bleier is one of my favorite football players for the Steelers. Of course, Terry Bradshaw and the gang. That was back in the day when there was Dwight White and Joe Greene; those were some of the old championship players. One of my favorite teams; it was an honor to meet them in person.”
Before the players’ arrival, the veterans received custom jerseys from the state’s wounded warriors. Volunteer Mikal Lang said he was amazed being in the presence of veterans with so much history.
The jerseys took at least a year to customize with the veterans’ names. He said that the excitement from the veterans once they open their jerseys is one of the reasons he volunteers.
“It’s just amazing to be able to give back to people who made the ultimate sacrifice and served our countries, so we can live in the free country that we have today,” Lang said.
However, the players said they were honored to visit with the veterans. Lipps said he thinks little things such as signing jerseys and having small conversations could brighten their days.
“Freedom means everything, and they were a big part of that. My father was a Vietnam vet,” Lipps said. “Whenever I can come out and be able to put a little brightness and shine on their day, hopefully, I can do that. I’m all for it.”
Dawson said this is not an everyday occasion to meet with professional athletes. Bleier, Brown, and Kolb are all Superbowl champions, and all four are part of the Steelers Hall of Honor.
He said that even though many people look to veterans as role models, he sees professional athletes are other role models to take after.
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“It’s a good opportunity for other people to have something to look up to and to model their behavior after,” Dawson said. “There’s nothing I can think better than to model yourself off an American athlete with a history of winning.”
The veterans look forward to seeing the current team play come in August.