Penguins' Puck Soup
By Jean Horne
Published: Monday, February 19, 2007
There they were, the Pittsburgh Penguins ... the hottest team in the National Hockey League. And they were tied up in aprons. You heard me, sports fans. On Monday, the Pens took time out from battling for a playoff spot to face off against a dread disease at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's "Penguins at Your Service." Now in its 20th year, the benefit is so important to Mario Lemieux and the Pens' owners that it's a command performance for the entire team.
These guys usually don't take orders from anyone. But at the Omni William Penn, they made an exception. Suited up like penguins (teehee) under those aprons and looking like a million pucks, they were deftly dishing out blue line (oops, plate) specials for 550 guests. No one ran outta ice or called "check!" Yet, with our town skating on thin ice over the team's future here, the buzz all night long was, "MARIO, DON'T GO!"
Charming and disarming are not generally words used in the same breath as our bladerunners. But they couldn't have been more so when besieged by photo-opsters and groupies of all ages. At the autograph session and even tableside, every teammate smiled the smile, shook the hand, wrote the name. A class act.
Couldn't deny the mob scene, though, around No. 87, the young dreamboat Sidney Crosby, who's leading the League in goals. Turns out he also led the eve as the Most Valuable Waiter by racking up $22,000 in "tips" from his tables.
Assisting again this year as celeb waiters were TV news anchors, sports hosts and weathermen. It didn't hurt a teensy bit that the Pens' gorgeous wives and sweethearts came to greet arriving guests.
How well did our icemen do• Try more than $330,000, including an auction of mostly sports stuff, to help fund the means to cure and control the fatal disease that kiddies with CF call "65 roses." This power play has become such a hot numero on the benefit circuit that there were as many TV cameramen and media in the ballroom as pucksters.
Faces in the crowd: Pens prez Ken Sawyer and Shirley with G.M. Ray Shero and Karen; head coach Michel Therrien; emcee Bob Pompeani of KDKA (his 18th year at the mike!); Christy and Rob Hoffman with son Adam; Cliff Rowe; Dave McKamish and son Kevin; Kevin Swain with Brian and KC; Polly and Frank Babik; Sally Stone; Dolores Belich; Kristen and Chuck Hammel with their sons; Cindy Himes (she's worked on all 20 events!); Gayle and Bill Simpson with twins Keally and Will; Dr. Alexander Minno and grandson Chris Flaherty; Tony Pratt; Carole Scalo and daughter Jesse; Bob and Nancy Topich; Rob Winovich; and the Pens' beloved former head coach Eddie Johnston, who's attended all 20 events.
Then we spotted Trish Hooper and Julian Neiser; Lindsay and Ian Peksa; Nick Monico; Janet Corrinne-Harvey; CFF's Pat Joseph with Cyndi Nace who directed the eve; Cindy and Bob Feldman with Emery; Angela and John Kenny with Megan and Rachel; Jean and Henry Haller with Ed and Amy; Joella and Scott Baker; such celeb waiters as Sally Wiggin, Andrew Stockey, Michelle Wright and Kelly Frey of WTAE; KDKA's Sonny Abatta, Alison Morris and Jeff Verszyla; Stan Savran and Dan Potash of FSN; and Allie and Matt Arendas with cutie pie Nate, 6, who is bravely battling the disease.
|Rock for the Cure|
Neither snow nor Thursday's snarling traffic jams could dampen the spirits of those waiting in the block-long sidewalk queue. They streamed 600 strong into Station Square's Hard Rock Café, and then into its adjoining tent. Most of the women in the crowd wore pink, and many were breast cancer survivors who have stared that beast down. But everyone showed to kick off the 2007 Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure on Mother's Day, May 13, in Schenley Park. And they stayed to have fun.
Last year, 34,000 fans entered the 5K run/walk that now ranks tenth among the more than 125 Komen races in the country. So happens it also raised a record $2.1 million ... with 75 percent of that sum funding local breast-cancer screenings, research and treatment.
Musicians Sputzy, Margot B, Dancing Queen, No Bad Ju Ju and Mercedez, who kept them twisting and shouting on the dance floor, donated their time and talents, the darlings.As did the Café, with the venue.
Rocking in the hard place were such as race chair Mona Colicchie and co-chair Karen Lubinski; director Jo Ann Meier; Susie Wean; Selma Sherman; Karen Shastri; Elizabeth Sullivan; Terri Chapman; Sophie Malli; Sandra Copeland; Carolyn Oblak; Roberta Wilson; Kathy Purcell; John Erskine; and Sue Cardillo.
|Freedom House EMTs|
It began as a bold experiment in 1967. A few dozen unemployed African American men were hired from the mean streets of the Hill District and the North Side to drive Freedom House ambulances in the Hill District, Oakland and Downtown.
That may have been the original premise, but, after nine intense months of training with Pitt's Dr. Peter Safar, the father of CPR, they were prepared to treat patients at the emergency scene and during transport to the hospital. The men made history as the nation's first paramedics and, when the city's new Emergency Medical Services came into its own in 1975 and FH funding dried up, they disbanded and were forgotten.
That is, until L.A. filmmaker Gene Starzenski created "Freedom House," a powerful documentary of this extraordinary enterprise that premiered Thursday at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland. A South Side native, Starzenski also works as a paramedic on Hollywood stage sets.
In celebration of Black History Month, Pitt chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Hill House Association prez Evan Frazier welcomed more than 500 guests to the screening and lively receptions, where we spotted Dr. Safar's widow, Eva Safar; Phil Hallen, who co-founded the original project; FH paramedics Mitchell Brown, John Moon, George McCary, Lonnie Green, Thomas Mitchell, Kerry Muckler and Addie Johnson; FH director Edward Charles; Elsie Hillman; Dr. Paul Paris; Liz Schoyer (she served on the first FH board in '67!); Eva Blum; Robert Hill; Maddy Ross; Esther Bush; Bill Trueheart; Dave Wannstedt; Jeff Long; Wes Posvar Jr.; and Thelma Lovette.
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