One of the core principles of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program is giving back to the community. All teams have the opportunity to complete an annual service project that benefits the community. On Sunday, September 13th, families from the10U and 12U Tindall girls teams participated in the Heitz of Heaven 5K Run/Walk held at the RMU Island Sports Center.
This was the 8th annual running of the Heitz of Heaven 5K Run/Walk which is put on by the Heitz 61 Memorial Foundation. The foundation is founded in dedication to Ryan V. Heitzenrater, a Pittsburgh native who led an active life playing hockey and snowboarding among other sports but passed away in 2013 due to Secondary Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) after an unidentified viral infection.
Per the foundation’s website, Ryan “was a remarkable teenager who was very athletic, always had a smile on his face, and touched many lives during the short time he was here. His main sport was ice hockey, which he played for the Arctic Foxes Hockey Association for eight years. He was also involved with football and track and field through Montour School District. Ryan was an avid snowboarder who loved to do park and mountain riding.”
Ryan’s connection to hockey and to Pittsburgh made the experience of participating in the 5K the perfect match for the Pens Elite girls teams. The Heitz 61 Memorial Foundation’s website says that it was created “through the eyes of Ryan and will help others within the community by promoting higher education and encouraging the physical well-being and teamwork of young people involved in sports”. The 5K event on Sunday was another spectacular example of that and the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite organization is proud to share the same values and goals.