Bednar leads way as Pirates provide Thanksgiving dinners

November 22nd, 2023

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was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He’s a diehard fan of the city’s sports teams, especially the Penguins and the Steelers. Just before Thanksgiving, he and the Pirates teamed up with their sibling teams to provide a meal to remember for hundreds of families in the area.

The big three Pittsburgh squads united for the third annual #BurghProud Thanksgiving Dinner Distribution on Tuesday afternoon at PNC Park, and Bednar -- who is often out and about doing charity work, even during the season -- was front and center in the effort.

Together with Giant Eagle and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the teams provided 300 families with a turkey, seasonal produce, a Market District Apple Pie, a $15 Giant Eagle gift card and a special gift from each of the three clubs.

Bednar’s offseason consists of a lot of Penguins and Steelers games, and he’s gotten to know several of the players over the few years he’s been the Pirates’ closer. On Tuesday, he got to say he was on a line with Penguins forward Jake Guentzel, who has been one of the highest point-getters on the team for the past handful of seasons, alongside other players.

“We’re so fortunate for such a great fanbase, and they’re always supporting us all year round,” said Bednar. “So to give back, especially around Thanksgiving and the holiday season, that’s what it’s all about. Today especially, just taking one thing off people’s minds and just letting them have what the holidays are truly about and spend time with their families.”

The spirit of giving back that defines Thanksgiving is engrained in Bednar. He was the Pirates’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee in 2022 and '23, and it’s easy to see why he’s worthy of multiple nominations. It seems like every other week Bednar is somewhere in the Greater Pittsburgh Area talking to students at their schools, delivering meals, supporting local baseball or just being an ambassador for the Pirates.

Earlier this month, Bednar and the Pirates teamed up with Light of Life Rescue Mission to help deliver 500 boxes of stuffing donated by the organization for the nonprofit’s Thanksgiving Basket Outreach. He’s been to a couple of local schools since the season ended as part of the Chill Mobile program, which helps students relieve stress and teaches the importance of good mental-health habits.

Bednar works to aid students in understanding those concepts, which he says he only began to properly grasp as a pro baseball player. He’s also focused on giving them a reason to smile.

“I think back to when I was younger,” Bednar said, “and if there was a Penguin, Steeler, Pirate, whoever at any event, I would be pretty pumped up about it. … I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

Bednar already has more plans in the near future to give back to the community, including a few more Chill Mobile visits and an event with Lending Hearts, an organization which helps support cancer patients.

His heart is already warm knowing that more families will be able to enjoy their holiday this Thanksgiving, thanks to the city coming together and stepping up for the biggest meal of the year.

“With the turkey and Thanksgiving dinner distribution today, it just gives people a real, true Thanksgiving dinner that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have,” Bednar said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, and that’s really what Thanksgiving is all about.”