I had a chance this past week to visit one of our local TV stations. My friend Kathleen Ganster was asked to come down to the studio to be interviewed about the non-profit foundation for which she is a consultant. I went along as her “assistant” for the day.
After finding a parking space in downtown Pittsburgh, the most difficult task of the day by far, we were escorted from the station’s lobby in Gateway Center to the tiny “green room” where we met a few of the other guests waiting to appear on that day’s show.
We also saw some of the on-air talent for the station, all of whom look even more attractive in person than they do on camera, which is very discouraging.
Kathleen was interviewed by morning anchor Sonni Abatta, who turned out to be a nice person to talk with and probably the same age as my oldest son. Kathleen and I were both impressed by everyone we met that morning, but none of them could compare to meeting Former Pittsburgh Steeler Mel Blount, known as “Supe” for his superior athletic skill.
That nickname still fits the Hall of Fame cornerback whose bio says he is 57, but who looks as if he had stopped by after working out at Heinz Field with the current team.
Like everyone in the Steel City, we were swept away by the Steel Curtain and all the success the Pittsburgh franchise had in the 1970s. Mel’s football skills had played a huge part in those four Super Bowl winning teams. I even remembered his uniform number, when most of the time I can’t recall my friend’s cell phone number.
Kathleen joked that I practically knocked her down to get a chance to shake Mel’s hand when he graciously introduced himself to us, but I beg to differ. I think she was just jealous of how quickly I hurtled the large makeup suitcase and other assorted gear lying in my path on the floor. I hope Mel didn’t think I was too obvious.
Mel asked us why we were there and Kathleen explained the mission of the Verland Foundation and its connection to the premier of the movie “Riding the Bus with My Sister” which will air Sunday night on CBS (see following article). He showed a lot of interest in what she had to say as they compared the difficulties of raising money for worthwhile causes. I didn’t get a chance to say much, mostly sitting there staring at Mel with a silly grin on my face.
In addition to being a former Steeler, Mel, now known as “the Rescuer of Lost Boys,” is a humanitarian who established a life-changing group home for troubled boys south of Pittsburgh. That’s by far the best reason to be impressed by this athlete who has succeeded over odds that might have stopped others in their tracks.
If anyone asks, I will say that’s why I was so star-struck at our encounter and that would be the truth. (It had nothing to do, really, with the fact that Mel, even in his late 50s, still looks darn Supe.)
By Teresa K. Flatley 4/05