Award winners honor memory of Art Rooney

Sunday, April 09, 2017 - Updated: 5:00 pm
By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

The hallmark of the late Steelers founder Art Rooney was that he never forgot where he came from, said David Morehouse, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was the patriarch of a family that has symbolized class, dignity, hard work and loyalty.

"Art Rooney meant so much to the city of Pittsburgh," Morehouse said. "For a kid from Beechview to be here today is following an example (he) set."

Morehouse made his remarks in accepting the Art Rooney Award at the 44th Annual Art Rooney Award Dinner and Auction April 3 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. The gala benefits the Catholic Youth Association of Pittsburgh.

Also honored were St. Joseph Sister Janice Vanderneck, with the John E. McGrady Award; Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV, with the Bill Burns Award; James Conner, former University of Pittsburgh running back, with the Bob Prince Award; and Karen Miyares, with the Nick Cardello Volunteer of the Year Award.

"Mr. Rooney was a man of vision, a man of strength and a man of compassion," said Mary Ann Heneroty, CEO of the Catholic Youth Association. "We all feel very fortunate to have been touched by this great man."

Sister Janice established Casa San Jose in Pittsburgh’s Brookline neighborhood as an outreach to the Latino community. In noting that the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph is to profess love of God and neighbor without distinction, she said the example of Jesus shows us that our neighbor is anyone we encounter who is in need. All of us are on the road to a kingdom where all are one.

"Pittsburgh has grown to be such a welcoming place for the immigrant," she said. She recognized Mayor Bill Peduto, who was present, for his efforts in reaching out to the immigrant community. More information on her outreach can be found at www.casasanjose.org, or on Facebook.

Pompeani said it has been "a dream" to work in his hometown and receive an award in the name of the legendary Pittsburgh broadcaster who "was one of a kind." "This is truly an honor and I will cherish it," he said.

Conner’s fight to overcome Hodgkin’s lymphoma became a national story. The record-breaking back returned to the Panthers last season and is preparing for the NFL draft at the end of the month.

In a video tribute, family friend Mike Gallagher described how Conner’s story went from one being about football to one of survival. "It’s not a sports story at all," he said. "It’s a love story."

Conner’s humble nature was evident in his acceptance speech. He said it was "a blessing" for him to be at the dinner, and he thanked all of those who supported him in his recovery, namely his teammates and his physician, Dr. Stanley Marks.

More than 500 attended the dinner. The Catholic Youth Association of Pittsburgh Inc. has operated a neighborhood community center since 1925. With a base at the Stephen Foster Center in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, it serves more than 2,000 people a year with more than 200,000 services at three sites.

Services include preschool and child-care programs; intergenerational and senior care programs; Meals on Wheels program; recreation, and health and wellness activities; volunteer opportunities; transportation programs; adult day care; and a legal aid program. More information is available by phone at 412-621-3342, or by visiting www.catholicyouthassociation.com.

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