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McCandless resident Woodruff to be honored for 'caring commitment'

Chris Adamski
| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Dwayne Woodruff of McCandless will receive the Leather Helmet Award from the Minor Pro Football Hall of Fame on May 4, 2013.
Jasmine Goldband
Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Dwayne Woodruff of McCandless will receive the Leather Helmet Award from the Minor Pro Football Hall of Fame on May 4, 2013.

Dwayne Woodruff is in a prime position to influence young people's lives in a positive way as a judge in the Family Division of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

His status as a Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steeler first made him a role model, and while his professional football career made him eligible for the Leather Helmet Award he won because he demonstrates “a sense of caring commitment and significant contributions to charitable causes.”

The McCandless resident will be honored for winning the award at the Minor Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction and Recognition Awards Ceremony at 11 a.m. May 4 at the Sen. John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum in Pittsburgh's Strip District.

“I could be driving a pickup truck or whatever the job is, and I'd still be trying to do the same things,” said Woodruff, who played for the Steelers from 1979 to 1990.

“But there's no question about the fact that having played for the Pittsburgh Steelers gives me more of a platform to stand on to talk to people, so that's definitely a blessing. I've enjoyed being a judge, as well, but when life puts you in a certain position, a lot more is expected out of you. I just hope to continue to try to meet those expectations.”

Woodruff, 56, attended law school as his playing days wound down and eventually helped found his own firm. He was elected a judge in 2005 and has worked primarily in the juvenile division.

Woodruff and his wife, Joy, serve as chairpeople of the Do the Write Thing Challenge Program in Pittsburgh. The primary initiative of the National Campaign to Stop Violence, Do the Write Thing gives a voice to young people as they examine the impact of violence on their lives.

“Look at what he's done in the community and for young kids,” said Tom Averell, Minor Pro Football Hall of Fame director. “His charities and other events he's involved in help kids who are on the wrong side of the street and help turn them into people who are on the right side.

“Then ... ‘Do The Write Thing' and the work it does with violence in schools and things of that nature and the community service. There are people doing these things, and these are the kind of people whom we're going out and honoring.”

Among past winners of the Leather Helmet Award is Woodruff's former Steelers teammate, Robin Cole. The former linebacker founded the Obediah Cole Foundation for Prostate Cancer.

The Do the Write Thing Challenge Program banquet is less than three weeks after the Leather Helmet presentation. Last year, Woodruff said, more than 1,400 youths from the Pittsburgh area took part in the program.

Youths are asked to write essays about their thoughts on three primary questions:

• What do think causes violence?

• What are the effects of violence on youth?

• What do you believe cam be done to eliminate it?

“We get some great ideas from some of the kids,” Woodruff said. “They never cease to amaze, with how smart kids can be.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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