Ward
Ward

Pittsburgh Steelers great Hines Ward is coming to speak in York.

The former Super Bowl MVP will serve as the keynote speaker at the 2nd annual Children's Benefit Dinner in the Valencia Ballroom at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, said York County Youth Development Center director Rodney Wagner.

Tickets cost $50 and include dinner.

Also addressing the crowd that night will be local artist Ophelia Chambliss and Bev Mackereth, state secretary of the Department of Public Welfare and former York County state representative, Wagner said. The center's youth percussion group, YDC Street Beats, will also perform, he said.

He said Ward is a good choice for the event because the former wide receiver understands personal adversity. Also, much the way he did on the football field, Ward aims to be versatile.

"He's a bucket-list guy," Wagner said.

Wagner said Ward had always wanted to participate in a triathlon, so he did so after his playing career ended. Same with acting; Ward grabbed a role as a zombie in "The Walking Dead." He even took the Season 12 title on "Dancing with the Stars."

Most importantly, though, Ward started a charity: Hines Ward's Helping Hands Foundation. The organization works to promote literacy among children, according to Ward's website. He also works to fight discrimination against biracial kids.

The Center: Last year, the Youth Development Center sold 230 tickets to the first Children's Benefit Dinner. This year, the goal is around 325, Wagner said. So far they've sold about 140. Anyone wanting to buy tickets should callKevin Shepheard at 840-7570.

The Youth Development Center is part of the county government. It provides a living space for kids who have had run-ins with the law and are court-ordered to be there, Wagner said. The center houses about 250 different youths each year, he said.

"We provide stability," Wagner said. "We service all walks of life in the county, from to Dillsburg to Delta."

Last year: Vince Papale, former Philadelphia Eagle and subject of the 2006 movie "Invincible," spoke at last year's dinner. This year, the center was in talks with former Steelers running back Franco Harris, former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher, subject of the 2009 film "The Blind Side," and others before settling on Ward.

"We kind of have the philosophy, 'Go big or go home,'" Wagner said. "When working with kids, you can't just go mediocre."