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SANTONIO HOLMES, top left, and current Steeler Roosevelt Nix, right, with some of the youth at Holmes’ celebrity bowling event, Oct. 10. (Photo by Tationna Smalley)

No one’s really sure who won the Santonio Holmes celebrity bowling event at AMF Noble Manor Lanes in the West End, Oct. 10.

That’s because the real winners were the kids.

Holmes, forever minted in Steeler lore after making the Super Bowl-winning touchdown catch against the Arizona Cardinals, has a son with Sickle Cell disease.

Through his Third and Long foundation, the Super Bowl XLIII MVP has hosted a number of programs and events to build awareness about the disease, and to increase financial support for research. The Strikes Against Sickle Cell Bowlathon gave youth with the disease a chance to bowl with the stars.

“We advocate for our kids,” said Michael Matthews, executive director of the local Children’s Sickle Cell Foundation. “If you go to a particular school, the staff may not know what Sickle Cell is. They might think it’s contagious, they may think it’s only a Black disease, which it is not. We go in the schools and help educate the staff so they can be better advocates as administrators and teachers.”

Matthews, whose foundation brought the youth to the bowling event, said the organization works with about 220 children in Allegheny County with Sickle Cell. “If you’re a parent of a child with Sickle Cell, we not only provide programming for that child, we encourage it throughout the entire family,” he told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview. “So, this event, you see some kids with Sickle Cell, but you also see some of their siblings.”

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