On a recent winter evening, patients inside Pittsburgh Children's Hospital were treated to a meet and greet with Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt and his fiancee, Dani. Each patient received a limited edition New Era hat designed by Watt, along with books and blankets to help keep them comfortable during their hospital stay.
For every specially designed hat purchased on the Steelers' website, $5 will go directly to the UPMC Children's Hospital Free Care Fund, which helps to cover the cost of free and uncompensated care for every child who needs the expert and compassionate care of UPMC Children's, but whose family cannot afford it.
"T.J. Watt is a great champion of PNC Children's, said Rachel Petrucelli, the president of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. "It really inspires the kids that we serve and the families that support them to keep doing what they're doing at the hospital to get well, to fight and to know that there are people in the community that are cheering them on."
Along with his emergence as one of the NFL's premier defensive players, Watt has become one of the Steelers' most popular and recognizable players. The frontrunner to win Defensive Player of the Year, Watt is using his platform to help support the Pittsburgh community.
"Anything that I can do in this community, especially when it comes to children and children in need of brightening up their day, I'm willing to do it," Watt said during his hospital meet and greet. "That's why I love doing stuff like this. Just delivering a hat and a smile goes a long way."
A Wisconsin native, Watt relishes the opportunity to represent Pittsburgh's blue collar work ethic on game days. He also appreciates how the city has embraced him during his first five seasons with the Steelers.
"It's so cool to see just how respectful people are of my time," Watt said of his interactions with Steelers fans during a recent appearance on the "All Things Covered" podcast with Bryant McFadden. "Nobody wants anything. They just want to say hello. … I have nothing but good things to say about the people of Pittsburgh."