UnitedHealthcare Health insurance that includes all Western PA hospitals
Saturday November 28 2015
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Forever Black and Gold

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There is no denying how much Hines Ward has meant to Steelers fans, as well as the city of Pittsburgh, over his 14-year career. It was in his last year, however—BnGG’s first—that Hines came to mean so much to the Black n Gold Girls.

When I first heard that Hines was selected to appear on Dancing with the Stars, I remembered thinking, “I bet there is a way that the Black n Gold Girls (which then numbered 24,000) could help make a difference.”

I placed a call to Andrew Ree, Hines’ childhood friend and long-time manager. To my surprise, I was put right through to him. I explained who the BnGG were, and that we wanted to find a way to help. We had brainstormed what we might be able to do. Eventually, we decided to put a Hines-approved tee shirt for sale at our fledgling website and donate a portion of each shirt to the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation.

Our partnership received some great media attention and we sold 570 shirts in only one month, raising $3,300 in the process.

Our Girls tuned in to DWTS, week-in and week-out. We became the largest cheerleading squad in the world. Girls banked the phones, urged everyone we knew to vote, and crusaded for our Black n Gold Dancer!

Hines, of course, made us proud. His signature smile and winning attitude allowed him to capture the Mirrorball Trophy. It seemed a small way to provide his fans with entertainment during the NFL lockout that offseason.

The day of the show’s finale, much to our surprise, BnGG was covered on a national scale, with features on both Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight. Locally, WTAE and KDKA both interviewed members of the BnGG. To be associated with Hines himself was truly humbling!

We even had the opportunity to sit down with Hines in the studio before his weekly radio show on WDVE-FM. We admit we were super nervous to meet him face-to-face.

“Hello Black n Gold Girls!!!” he boomed, his signature smile lighting up the room. He spoke with us for 45 minutes, thanking us for not only helping to get the vote out, but also for raising funds for his charity. He was everything in person we hoped he would be: gracious, complimentary, in touch and genuine.

Photo by Black N Gold GirlsAs Hines Ward begins the next chapter of his career and life, I hope he knows that he has a legion of now 47,000 BnGG who continue to support him.

He has provided us with so much excitement over the year, providing a solid role model for our youth and showing them what determination can help one achieve. He also showed us every week for 14 seasons that getting knocked down time after time doesn’t mean you can’t come up smiling!

Thanks, Hines, for 14 awesome years.

Neil Walker’s contract expires after the 2016 season. The Pirates second baseman is due for a big raise in arbitration this offseason—likely to $10 million—and signing him to a long-term extension will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-$15 million annually.
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