JACKSON COUNTY - Rocky Bleier was a champion on the football field and a hero on the battle field. The former National Football League great is coming to Jackson County this fall.

The former running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers joins the impressive list of previous guest speakers for the Community Foundation of Jackson County Celebration Benefit. He will make an appearance on Oct. 19, 2017 at the Jackson County Armed Forces Reserve Center in Millwood.

As both a Vietnam veteran and four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bleier’s background and message is a sure fit for the Foundation’s 2017 focus, “Honoring All Who Served.”

The community will be inspired to “Lead through Teamwork, Perseverance and Hope,” according to JCCF Executive Director Christy Crowell. She notes that Bleier’s story is a gripping tale of courage on both the football fields of America and the battle fields of Vietnam. His motivational message details how ordinary people can become extraordinary achievers. 

Known for his optimism, sense of humor and steadfast determination, Bleier takes audiences from his early years through his professional career and talks about the lessons he learned along the way … lessons from which we all can benefit. 

As a football player at Notre Dame, Bleier had to run harder and play smarter to be able to stand out. Despite his drive and ability to make the big play, the Steelers only considered him a late round draft pick. But before that first NFL season ended, he was drafted again … this time by the United States Army. At the height of the war in Vietnam, Bleier was thrust into combat early and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, he was barely able to walk and his professional football career seemed to have ended before it began. 

Little by little he overcame obstacles and fought his way back. He not only made the Pittsburgh roster, but also eventually became a starting running back on a Steeler team that won four Super Bowls and became the greatest football team of the 20th century. The hard lessons Bleier learned early in his life that helped him overcome adversity and reach his goals, have paid off after football.

“This year’s focus is one in need of attention in Jackson County,” Crowell said. “Our veterans’ groups work extremely hard to care for those who fought for our country and are in need of everything from counseling and fellowship to food and homes.”

The six organizations are VFW Posts 5501 and 6669, American Legion Post 107, Marine Corps League 1065, Jackson County Hunting Heroes and Operation Jackson County Veterans. The goals are to bring attention to what each of the groups do and educate the community on how to give, who to give to and where the funds go. 

“There are so many scams that deter folk from giving to our veterans’ groups,” she said. “In the next few months, I encourage readers to follow us in Jackson Newspapers as well as on Facebook to learn about each of our six groups. I am proud to be working with these organizations and glad to have them all working together to share resources to guarantee that all veteran’s needs are met.

“This year we have developed a wonderful team of Corporate Steering partners to bring in Rocky Bleier and help us put on this colossal event,” Crowell added. “Constellium is our newest partner and we are glad to see them exceedingly involved in our community. Buddy and Carol Stemple are both involved in our Community Foundation events. We appreciate the continued support from the Dickirson Community Fund. David and Linda Dickirson are extraordinary folk who believe in making a difference in the community in which we live.”

Tickets ($50 for seniors and $60 for adults) and table sponsorships may be reserved for the JCCF, Inc. Celebration Benefit by stopping by the Foundation office at 108 North Church Street, Ripley (2nd Floor City National Bank); calling 304-372-4500; or through email at christyjccf@frontier.com. Seating will be assigned (front row to back) for individual tickets and sponsorships by the date the confirmation is made. 

The Community Foundation of Jackson County- JCCF, Inc. is a non-profit public charity created by local citizens to build permanent endowment funds and issue grants and scholarships to meet community needs. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things!