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Ben Roethlisberger's Ties To Make-A-Wish Foundation One Of Many Reasons His Legacy Will Go Beyond The Field

By: KDKA-TV's Shelley Bortz

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Ben Roethlisberger's legacy will go far beyond his final game on the field.

"I behoove anybody to find another professional athlete who has done so much for law enforcement over the demographic area of the United States," Center Township Police Chief Barry Kramer said.

"He does a lot for communities and police dogs," Hunter Storks, of Pittsburgh, said. "I'm grateful cause I know a lot of the departments can use them."

The Steelers quarterback created the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which provides financial grants to police departments across the nation to help with K-9 programs.

The Center Township Police Department is just one of the recipients of this funding. The department has been able to buy and train two K-9s over the years, resulting in drug seizures of $100,000 of illegal narcotics each year.

"It's just not a one-time gift, which is great, but he's consistently been a supporter of law enforcement and has consistently funneled money into help fight drugs, which has nothing to do with him as a football player. That does tell you about the person that he is," Kramer said.

Roethlisberger has provided 269 K-9s to departments across the country, as well as over $2 million in support of police and fire departments.

In 2008, Roethlisberger gave a grant to police or fire departments in every city where the Steelers played that season.

"I think the city has shown him a lot of love, and I think he's shown that love back through his charity work," said Joe Yurko from Virginia.

The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation also works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Roethlisberger has said he devotes his time to the foundation because of his passion to help kids. He has helped grant more than 160 wishes, Make-A-Wish said.

The most memorable wish occurred when 14-year-old Akeem Havens met the quarterback in 2011.

"Akeem was actually a quadriplegic," said Dana Antkowiak of Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia. "His dad had built him a special remote control holder so he could play video games with his chin. His special request was to play a video game with Ben Roethlisberger when he met him. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room that day."

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