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ALTOONA, Pa. -- While people were celebrating Independence Day at the beach, Sheetz Inc. spent the holiday thinking about Christmas.
The Sheetz family, which operates more than 280 convenience stores in five states, was joined by a roster of celebrity athletes and vendors to ensure this holiday season would be a special one for children as they teed off at the fifth annual Sheetz Family Christmas "For the Kidz" Golf Classic at the Firestone Country Club. This year's event helped to bring the 10-year total raised for the charity to more than $3.7 million.
Celebrity guests of honor this year included NASCAR's Rusty Wallace, Pittsburgh Penguin Mario Lemieux, the NFL's Don Shula and Chuck Noll along with a number of other celebrity golfers. Every year, Sheetz invites vendors and celebrities to help raise money for the charity in order to provide thousands of children in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia the opportunity to fulfill their holiday wishes. More than 6,000 Sheetz employees and volunteers from every Sheetz district also participate in the Family Christmas program, raising money through a variety of fund-raising events, including the Golf Classic.
"It was a great day of golf at the Firestone Country Club," said Chuck Noll, former coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. "It's always nice to catch up with old friends as we come together to help raise money for such a wonderful charity as the Sheetz Family Christmas."
Other celebrity golfers included PGA professionals Craig Stadler and Ben Witter, Hall of Famers Bill Mazeroski, Bob Robertson and Jack Ham along with other Pittsburgh sports legends Nellie Briles, Elroy Face, Jim Rooker, Bob Friend, Dave Giusti, and Rocky Bleier. Additional Hall of Fame celebrities included Dallas Cowboys Randy White and Bob Lilly, and St. Louis Cardinal Stan Musial.
"As a family-owned and operated business, we put a lot of emphasis on family and take great pride in our ability to give back to the communities where we do business," said Louie Sheetz, executive vice president of marketing.
"Sheetz Family Christmas was initiated by our employees for the kids in their communities. The Golf Classic has grown every year, and this year we were able to raise nearly $175,000 to bring the 10-year total to $3.7 million."
The Sheetz Family Christmas program began in 1992 in Altoona, Pa., as a way to provide holiday gifts for children. In partnership with the Salvation Army, Sheetz identifies underprivileged families in each of their five markets and sends their employees into the communities to shop with a child during the holiday season.
CAPTION: Steve Sheetz (left), Don Shula, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins; Stan Sheetz and Louie Sheetz.