The Steelers Are Coming to Town

WHEELING – The Ohio County Relay For Life’s 4th Annual Fundraiser with the Pittsburgh Steelers will take place Friday night at Wheeling Park High School.

The game, which features members of the Steelers facing off an Ohio County team that is loaded with former star players and local dignitaries, is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m., and is the third in a tripleheader that also showcases Wheeling Park seniors against faculty (5:15 p.m.), and the Future Park Basketball Stars exhibition game (6 p.m.).

All proceeds benefit Ohio County Relay for Life, which is the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society.

The Steelers, who haven’t released a roster of players who will be on hand, have not fared all that well in the first three playings of the game. Ohio County won the first two games before the Steelers grabbed a victory last season.

Charlie Batch and Antonio Brown were among the Steelers to play last year.

”It’s competitive, but it’s fun too,” said Wheeling Park boys’ basketball coach Michael Jebbia, who will coach the local team with his assistant Dave Koehler and Bill Seabright.

”We’re going to try to win, but our goal is to try and raise money for the American Cancer Society.”

Among those playing for the local team will be Dr. William Mercer of Wheeling Hospital, West Liberty University Men’s Assistant Basketball Coach Ben Howlett, Ohio County Schools Assistant Superintendent Bernie Dolan – a hero of the second game in this series -and Wheeling newspapers’ Sports Editor Shawn Rine.

Also playing with be former Wheeling Park players Shaun Black and Nathan Dolan, and ex-Wheeling Central star Puff Savage.

As has been the case all four years, Fawn Thomas, an area Relay for Life volunteer, is one of the event’s organizers.

”It’s a fun evening with the families,” Thomas said.

She said the response to the event during the years has been great, with local businesses stepping up as sponsors. They started a 50-50 raffle in January that will be pulled during the game. Concessions and a bake sale are also fundraisers on game night.

”It’s a lot of fun,” Jebbia said. ”It’s good for the community; it’s for a good cause. We’ve had good support the last few years. We’re hoping the crowd comes out.”

Mercer thinks the name recognition of the Steelers helps, but it doesn’t take headliners like them to bring out help from this community when the idea is raising money and cancer awareness.

”The Steelers, who doesn’t love the Steelers in the Ohio Valley?” asked Mercer, who is an avid basketball player. ”One thing that’s nice about living in the Ohio Valley, people come whether it’s the Steelers or anybody. This is kinda like a little bonus.”

Tables will be set up on the court and the Steelers players will sign autographs at halftime. Tickets are $7. The game will be dedicated to the memory of Randy Stephens, who was a senior at WPHS and an active member of the American Cancer Society Youth Board. Both the Steelers and the Relay team will wear wrist bands to honor Stephens, who was the Honorary Referee in 2010 and an active participant in last year’s game.

For more information, call Thomas (304) 281-077.