A Special Day .. that happens every year!

One thing I find in my job is that you are asked to do many charitable events. Of course, the goal is to do such a good job that the organization wants to have you back the following year. Sunday, I was able to emcee an event – for the 13th consecutive year. The difference here is that while I am honored to be asked back, I want the group to have me back each year because it has become as much fun for me as I thinks its been for them.

Enough keeping you in the dark.


Sheriff Steele, Dr Sam Siegel and Daniel Sepulveda posing with one of the guests of honor at Beth Shalom’s annual sports lunch.

Beth Shalom Synagogue is located in Squirrel Hill and each year, since the 50’s and 60’s, they have held an annual sports banquet. Its roots were in the simple idea of having their congregation be able to spend an afternoon getting to know the local sports stars of the day – and, of course, to get autographs. Over the years, it has developed into much more.



I am waiting at the table while Sheriff Steele challenges a member of the Pittsburgh passion womens team to an arm wrestling match. Dr. Sam Siegel – waiting in the wings.

Now, the number of congregation members in attendance is dwarfed by the number of special needs children and adults in the crowd.  People like those serviced by the Allegheny Valley School come to Beth Shalom for the day. They feast on hot dogs and hamburgers and get to meet a nrew generation of sports heroes.

This year, we had atheles from Carlow University and University of Pittsburgh. We had members of the Pittsburgh Passion Womens professional football team … and from the world champion Steelers, Daniel Sepulveda. But what makes this more than a meet-and-greet is the presence of local professional wrestlers.


Sheriff Steele ( in his hometown Browns gear ) arm wrestling with Daniel Sepulveda. You can guess who is going to win here.

“Dr Sam Siegel” and “Sheriff Steele” are just stage names for two gentlemen who have given their hearts and souls for more than a decade to put a smile on the face of those in attendance. They tease the Steeler player in attendance each year, challenge the other athletes to arm wrestling candidates and get those in the crowd fired up with a mix of bravado and humor. And what is my job? Just to keep this insanity moving. However, the heroes in all this are the folks at Beth Shalom.

They decided to turn what was just a congregational event into a chance to give something back to their community — and they have. This event, held each year on a Sunday in March, drew 400 people to the temple. Its a chance to bring  joy and a sense of belonging to those with special needs who might not otherwise have this chance.

Its amazing when I think I spent each of the last 13 years on a day in February being part of this event. However, when I really think about it, its not amazing at all. It’s why I got into this field in the first place … to make someones life a little bit better and more enjoyable. Little did I realize I would make my life a little bit better as well.

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