View Full Version : Steelers’ Keisel Lending More Than His Name

11-25-2010, 09:11 AM
Steelers’ Keisel Lending More Than His Name
Pittsburgh DE aiding the Cystic Fibrosis fight

November 25, 2010 - By SHAWN RINE, Sports Editor
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WHEELING - With the type of money professional athletes make, it's not uncommon for them to pick a charity or foundation and write a check to the particular cause each year. But Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel has taken that a step farther.

Rather than sign his name, he has become a face for the fight against Cystic Fibrosis, a still incurable disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). :applaudit::applaudit::hatsoff::hatsoff::tt04::tt0 4:

On Monday, Nov. 29 at McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon on Pittsburgh's North Shore, Keisel will play host to the 65 Roses Sports Auction for the fifth year. For $150, everyone will get a commemorative football that you have the option of having signed by any or all of the sports figures - Steve Blass and Greg Brown from the Pirates, Randy Bauman from WDVE and the Pirate parrot, as well as several Steelers are likely to appear - in attendance, as well as access to a complimentary buffet, silent auction, live auction and lots of surprises and great fun are included.

Wheeling resident Doug Sarkis has a dog in this fight. His 3-year-old grandson, Anthony was diagnosed with the disease at birth and is on regimen that includes 6-8 enzyme pills before each meal in order to properly digest the food, as well as inhalers, breathing machines and has a vibrating vest he wears .

''The weird part about us, our families on both sides, we have no recollection of anyone in family having it,'' Sarkis said of the genetic disease. ''One in 10 are unknown carriers of CS.''

In terms of zoning for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Wheeling was grouped in with Kentucky so Sarkis says the Ohio Valley didn't know much about the disease. Now, however, Wheeling and Morgantown are aligned with Pittsburgh, which has made a decided difference.

Sarkis said because of the environment in the Ohio Valley, one of the major problems with Cystic Fibrosis, is that it's often times misdiagnosed as asthma. Another issue is, there is certain financial help that is not available to CF patients in West Virginia.

''We're very lucky, the doctors told them right away to sign him up for something that's like welfare,'' he said. ''One of the things that I'm going to try to do is get our new legislators to make that happen in our state.

''Many kids in our state go to Ruby Memorial Hospital (in Morgantown) and Pittsburgh Children's Hospital, which is one of the top 4 in U.S. that handles it.''

This isn't Sarkis' first foray into these waters. He and his family organized a fundraiser last August at Generations that was entitled ''A Night in Key West,'' which featured singer-songwriter Scott Kirby. That event raised $17,000.

In addition, Sarkis' group has a yearly event in Wheeling called ''The Great Strides Walk.'' The event, which next year will be May 21 at WesBanco Arena, raised $40,000 in 2010.

But the big one is the 65 Roses Sports Auction, which Sarkis says he would like to see become a $100k event. Last year it raised $60,000, and the goal Nov. 29 is $75,000.

''Because of the fundraising CF has done, they found the actual gene that causes it,'' Sarkis said. ''Now the foundation is in the process of finding a drug that will attack that drug.

''We have three in clinical trial, and if we can get the FDA approval, CF will be able to be treated like diabetes, taking insulin every day.''