Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pittsburgh's Terrible Towel and Disability

Yesterday a Pittsburgh legend died - Myron Cope. Myron Cope was a legend.

  • His unique voice and broadcasting style became the voice of Pittsburgh Steeler's football games.

  • His ingenuous idea of the "Terrible Towel" will live long into the future. The Terrible Towel is essential gear for Pittsburgh Steeler fans! It is a small yellow towel printed in large black letters - "Terrible Towel." The Terrible Towel is twirled by loyal Steeler fans at memorable moments or just any old time during Steeler games or Steeler celebrations.

Reading Myron Cope's biographical information yesterday gave me some further insights into the man. I learned that he has an autistic son Daniel who lives at Allegheny Valley School here in Pittsburgh. Myron Cope donated all the royalties and rights from the sales of the Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School.

What strikes me most about Myron Cope isn't his fame as a sports announcer or even his invention of the Terrible Towel - what impresses me about Myron Cope is that behind his fame was a family dealing with disability. And Myron Cope had a heart to help other families dealing with disability. He donated all the rights to the Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School.

I went to the web and read about Allegheny Valley School. At just one of their locations here in Pittsburgh, they take care of 184 residents in five residential buildings and six group homes. Daniel Cope is one of those residents. I was stunned to read that those residents range in age from 15 to 87.

The "disabled world" is a large people group in our culture. Many families impacted by disability struggle with all the challenges their loved one and they face. There is a lonliness in that struggle.

There are some wonderful ministries stepping up to bat to reach out a helping hand. One of them is Joni Eareckson Tada's Joni and Friends Family Retreats held all over the country for a week just for the entire family of a disabled person to come and be specially loved for that week. My husband and I had the opportunity to observe one of those camps last summer. I will never forget what I saw and learned. I saw a level of love in action that was beyond incredible!

What strikes me most about Myron Cope is that he knew the pain disability brings to a family as well as the joy of loving that disabled person. I wonder if many people knew this rest of the story about Myron Cope.

We aren't Allegheny Valley School, but A Restoration Church is just beginning in the South Hills of Pittsburgh because we too realize that there is a world of brokenness in many forms. We want to reach out a loving, helping hand to bring God's love, grace and mercy to that brokenness wherever we find it.

We welcome you to be part of God's story as we pray, work, worship and reach out with God's love!

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