View Full Version : Terrible Towel Creator Donates All to Disabled

02-06-2009, 11:26 PM
Terrible Towel Creator Donates All to Disabled
Former Steelers' Announcer Myron Cope Turns Symbol of Pride Into Hope for Disabled

Feb. 6, 2009

If they gave out a Most Valuable Tchotchke award, it would have to go to the Pittsburgh Steelers' Terrible Towel. At any Pittsburgh Steelers game, if you don't have a Terrible Towel, you will be in the minority.

"If you ain't got a towel, you ain't got nothing," Steelers vendors yell to fans.

Legendary Steelers radio announcer Myron Cope, who died a year ago this month, came up with the idea in 1975.

"He wanted something that would be easy to carry," his daughter Elizabeth Cope said. "If it hit somebody, you know, there'd be nolaw suits. No one would get hurt."

The towel started as a block of gold terry cloth with black lettering used to intimidate the opposition.

"The team comes and peers in the tunnel for the introductions," Myron Cope said in his spirited voice in a 2007 interview. "From nowhere come, like, 30,000 towels. Yellow, black, gold towels.

"Bring a yellow, gold or black towel to the game will you. If you don't have one, buy one. If you don't want to buy one, dye one."

The Terrible Towel phenomenon took off during a 1975 playoff game against the Baltimore Colts.

"I just started waving the towel," former Pittsburgh Steeler Hall of Famer Lynn Swann said. "All of a sudden, they picked up their towels and started waving the towel."

And Cope's trademark rallying cry, "the terrible towel is poised to strike," was born.

Since then, the towel has taken on a meaningful legacy for more than Steelers' fans.

Cope gave the rights for "Myron Cope's the Official Terrible Towel" to the Allegheny Valley School in 1996.

"He said to me you need to make sure that you take care of this and that you protect the Terrible Towel," said Regis Champ, CEO of the Allegheny Valley School, which provides programs for children and adults with intellectual-developmental disabilities. "It means a lot to the city and it's going to mean a lot to Allegheny Valley School."

Steelers' Win Gives School Payday

Myron Cope's son Danny was diagnosed with severe mental retardation at age 2. He has been a resident at the Allegheny Valley School for the past 27 years. The school serves about 900 disabled students.

Hundreds of thousands of towels, which go for about $7 each, are sold every year. And the school receives a check for tens of thousands of dollars every month. It has received more than $2.5 million in profits so far.

The Steelers' Super Bowl win last Sunday generated huge sales of the towels, which is expected to do well for the school.

The school uses the money for things Medicaid doesn't cover, like specialized wheelchairs, sensory programs and adaptive communications devices. Thanks to the school, Danny Cope has a quality of life his family never expected.

Myron Cope didn't get to see the Steelers win their sixth Super Bowl this month. But his Terrible Towels were there in his stead.

"Myron understood his mortality," Champ of Allegheny Valley School said. "The one thing that gave him great comfort was the knowledge that the legacy of the Terrible Towel would continue."

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Myron Cope's Family Featured On 'World News'
Cope Family Chosen As 'Person Of The Week'

PITTSBURGH -- The family of legendary Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope has been selected as World News with Charles Gibson's "Person of the Week."

Cope died at the age of 79 in February 2008 after more than 35 years as a broadcaster with the Steelers.

World News features a new "Person of the Week" every Friday, highlighting someone who has made a difference in the world.

The Cope family will be featured Friday night.

Known for his distinct voice and catchphrases throughout his career, Cope is most closely associated with the "Terrible Towel."

Looking for a way to excite Steeler fans during a 1975 playoff game, Cope encouraged them to bring a yellow, black or gold dish towel to the game and wave them in the crowd, marking the birth of the "Terrible Towel."

"WTAE wanted a gimmick and the Steelers wanted a gimmick that involved the fans more with the team, make them feel a part of it. My dad said, as the story goes, that he wasn't a gimmick guy. Then they told him in no uncertain terms that his contract was up in a couple months and he said, 'I'm a gimmick guy,'" said daughter Elizabeth Cope.

Prior to his death, Cope donated the rights to the "Terrible Towel" to the Allegheny Valley School, which provides care for children and adults with mental retardation.

Proceeds from the "Terrible Towel" have helped raise more than $2 million for the school.

02-07-2009, 12:36 AM
Video link: Story broadcast on ABC News tonight!