He Keeps Going ... and Going ... and ...
Albert Lexie, a shoeshine man at Children's Hospital, Nominated for Energizer and People Magazine Honors
Photo courtesy Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame
After making what was originally supposed to be a one-time donation to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh nearly 29 years ago, Albert Lexie decided he couldn’t stop there: Instead, he vowed to return to the hospital each week week to shine shoes and donate the proceeds back to the hospital.
Albert Lexie, a Monessen, Pa., native who still lives in his hometown, visits Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC early in the mornings on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week to open up his shoe-shining business. Lexie shines shoes for doctors, administrators and other adults in the hospital, then donates all of the proceeds to the hospital’s Free Care Fund, which helps to ensure all children receive medical care regardless of families' ability to pay. In three decades, he has raised more than $150,000 for the fund by shining shoes.
Lexie started his work for the hospital in 1981 when he saw the annual KDKA/Children’s Hospital Free Care Friends Telethon, which was then hosted by Patti Burns. A close friend suggested to him that they should donate to the telethon; they pulled together $7,500 to donate. And later, when Lexie went back to the hospital again, he decided to shine shoes and raise funds ever since.
“Albert inspires everybody in the hospital. He comes twice a week and has been doing the same thing since 1981. It’s all about his pure love for the kids,” says Marc Lukasiak, manager of media relations for the hospital. Lukasiak nominated Lexie for the 2010 Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame in addition to Major League Baseball's and PEOPLE magazine’s “All-Stars Among Us” contest.
For the “All-Stars Among Us” contest, Lexie is one of three finalists for the Pittsburgh Pirates. A ceremony honoring Lexie and two other finalists for the award is slated to start around 6:35 p.m. at tonight’s Pirates game against the Cleveland Indians. The winner of the three semi-finalists will attend and be honored at the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Anaheim, Calif.
Whether or not Lexie receives the award doesn't matter, he says: It's his love for kids that has driven him to shine shoes week-in and week-out to raise money for the Free Care Fund for the course of nearly three decades.
“I just like to do what I do for the kids. Kids are special to me, and I want these kids to get better,” he says. When asked if he has any plans to change his career path, Lexie's answer is simple: No.
Luckily for Pittsburgh, this kind heart will continue to dedicate his skills and time to children in need.
To vote for Lexie or another finalist, visit mlb.com.