Play It Forward founders pledge $2 million to UPMC Children’s Hospital
Pittsburgh Steelers part-owners Cindy and Rob Citrone will donate $2 million to UPMC Children’s Hospital and issue a $1 million matching challenge they hope can help launch a network to improve pediatric transplant outcomes throughout the world.
The donation is part of the “Play It Forward Pittsburgh” launch, an initiative the Citrones founded in 2016 in concert with the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins after Rob Citrone’s father became ill and needed a kidney transplant.
Since then, more than 30 local and national organizations signed on, including the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Highmark, UPMC and others.
More than 20 Americans die each day while waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, according to PlayItForwardPGH.org, and 8,000 of the roughly 117,000 people on the national organ transplant wait-list live in Pennsylvania.
The $1 million matching challenge is intended to fund the Starzl Network for Pediatric Transplantation, named in honor of Dr. Thomas Starzl, considered the father of modern organ transplantation.
The campaign also includes advertisements featuring Pittsburgh celebrities including Ben Roethlisberger and actor Joe Mangianiello.
Play It Forward events will take place at the Penguins’ Dec. 9 home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Steelers’ Dec. 10 home game against the Baltimore Ravens, encouraging donor registration and educating fans about the organ transplant wait-list.
For a full list of activities, donation information and more, see PlayItForwardPGH.org .
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer.