In 2018, Pirates Charities partnered once again with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia to support the organization's annual "Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship for Wish Children" program.
The Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship for Wish Children was created in 1998 in honor of Kurt Weiss, a wish kid who overcame bone cancer and went on to attend Notre Dame University and Jefferson Medical College and study at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, NIH and UPMC. Inspired by his story of recovery, determination and generosity to other wish kids, executives at CoGo's established the scholarship fund to help motivate other wish children to pursue their post-high school educational ambitions.
Beyond the primary goal of helping wish children pursue higher education, the scholarship program was established to help counter the myth that the children helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation are all terminal. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes for children living with life-threatening medical conditions and many pinpoint their involvement with the Foundation as a turning point in their recovery.
More than 80% of all children helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation are alive today. The Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship program helps to spotlight these young people - years after their diagnosis and wish - and show them as young adults who are moving on with their lives and pursuing 'normal' activities such as graduation, college and beyond.
Pirates Charities became a sponsor of the Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship effort in 2010 and continued this support each year. In addition to financial support, Pirates Charities hosted a group of scholarship recipients and their families and friends to a night at the ballpark. Before the game a program was held in the Pirates Press Conference Room to recognize the 34 scholarship recipients. All attendees enjoyed a ballpark buffet at PNC Park's Picnic Park afterward. The scholarship recipients who attended the event then proceeded to the field where they were recognized for their accomplishments prior to the game. Make-A-Wish President/CEO Judi Stone and Development Coordinator Samara Silverstein also joined the group on the field.
As a follow-up on Kurt Weiss, in 2009 he completed his residency in Orthopaedic Surgery and then served as a Fellow in Musculoskeletal Oncology at the University of Toronto. On August 1, 2010, Kurt began his new position as Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at UPMC. He operated at UPMC Shadyside and Children's Hospital, specializing in the research and treatment of cancer in and around the skeleton. His wish to play with the Notre Dame Marching Band at the Orange Bowl was granted in 1989. He is married and has two children.
For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia, please visit their website at www.wishgreaterpa.org.