The Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster have announced a $10,000 donation to the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation, the latest installment in their Social Justice Grant program.
The @steelers announced donations to @ryanshazierfund from @TeamJuJu with a matching contribution by the team as part of the #Steelers’ Social Justice Grant program to help support community efforts.— Steelers Community Relations (@SteelersCR) January 27, 2021
📝: https://t.co/sWMPRrI7U7 pic.twitter.com/niwPtQrmry
Smith-Schuster donated $5,000, a contribution which the Steelers organization matched.
Shazier’s trials and tribulations are well-documented, having suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017.
The former Pro Bowler inspired millions throughout his recovery journey, and has turned his misfortune into an opportunity to help others, starting his foundation in November.
“My foundation is about people dealing with spinal cord issues. I dealt with the issue myself. I understand how much support and care you need for those with spinal cord issues,” Shazier told Steelers.com. “Sometimes people don’t get the right amount of care or support or rehab they need. I started this to give them more support, the caregivers more support and help them get more rehab. You always have to do some kind of rehab when injured. For spinal cord, usually you only get 30 sessions of rehab. That’s like trying to teach your kid to walk again in 30 sessions. That is almost impossible.”
For Shazier, it is extra special to have a former Steeler teammate in Smith-Schuster and the organization supporting his cause.
“I am truly thankful for this,” Shazier told Steelers.com. “It means a lot. It lets you know the relationships you built while playing with guys, guys who are from different backgrounds and different parts of the world, really mean something. You have relationships that go beyond football.”
“This doesn’t just mean a lot to mean personally, though. It means a lot because it’s going to help so many people who are going through the same thing I have gone through. JuJu has firsthand experience seeing what I have gone through when we played together. It’s amazing to have someone like that, someone who was a teammate not just support me, but support others.”
Selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Shazier was selected to two Pro Bowls over his four-year career, tallying 299 combined tackles, 24 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles and seven interceptions.