Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

PittGirl, Perseverance, Penguins And a Dream Come True

Dreams evolve — fade, even. But in Pittsburgh, with time and nurturing, they don’t have to die.



I was seventeen, and I had never been kissed.

It was 1992, and I was a three on the high-school popularity scale — where a zero is that kid who messed up the grading curve and a 10 is Kelly Johnson. (Your school had a Kelly Johnson, too. She just had a different name.) I curled my bangs before Aqua Netting them into a fortress that could withstand a Death Star blast. I hiked my jeans up past my bellybutton, then pegged them at my ankles.

Because the fashion style of 1992 was “CHECK OUT HOW STUPID WE ALL LOOK, ESPECIALLY YOU, VIRGINIA.”

Not to be confused with the fashion style of the ’80s, which was “[HORRIFIED FACIAL EXPRESSION].”

I was the recording secretary of Norwin High School’s Students Against Driving Drunk. Even the treasurer of the Bible Club could tell you I had the dorkiest of all positions one could attain within a student organization.

Yes, they put the mostly deaf girl in charge of taking notes during S.A.D.D. meetings.

“Ginny, make a note that our next meeting is Oct. 12.”
(Jots down:
Ginny & Jordan Knight Forever
Mrs. Ginny Knight
Virginia Anne Knight)

One initiative of S.A.D.D. was the Prom Promise, which asked students to visit our lunchroom table and sign a contract stating they would not drink and drive after prom. Isn’t that adorable? We were committed to saving our peers’ lives. Even that supernerd who kept messing up the grading curve.

I had big dreams then, as I do now. Instead of dreaming of publishing a novel or learning to fold a fitted sheet, I dreamed of space travel. I dreamed of piloting an F-15. I dreamed of marrying the pastor’s son, who didn’t yet see beauty in a 17-year-old, faintly mustachioed, hearing-impaired, four-eyed space geek with the fashion sense of a Golden Girl (not Blanche).

And I dreamed a Pittsburgh Penguins player would help us to make the Prom Promise cool. So I wrote a letter and placed it in an envelope with a stamp. (It was a thing we did in 1992, when we were feral animals living in a dark world.)

I asked the Penguins if they would send a player to our school for an assembly in May at which we would tell our classmates about the contract. Maybe our peers could ignore the dorks running S.A.D.D., but could they ignore Mario or Jaromir?

Weeks passed. I worriedly stroked my mustache each day as no reply arrived. Finally, a week before the assembly, a letter arrived from the Penguins. I tore into it, full of excitement … to read the bad news. Due to the Penguins’ success and playoff schedule, they regretfully informed me they couldn’t send a player.

Damn them and their winning ways, I sacrilegiously thought as my dream of standing on stage and shaking Mario Lemieux’s hand died faster than the flavor in my Fruit Stripe gum.
Flash forward 17 years to 2009. My mustache is gone. My fashion sense has improved from Rose Nylund to Lorelai Gilmore. I’m a blogger with a dream: to bring video games to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. I’m about to raise $10,000 to do it, and I need a nonprofit organization to handle the money.

I fire off an email to the Mario Lemieux Foundation asking if it could help. And I wait, as I did 17 years ago. Except this time I wait 20 minutes. For a yes.

That email started a seven-year partnership with the Mario Lemieux Foundation on a program called Make Room for Kids which, in conjunction with Microsoft, has installed more than 200 Xboxes in patient rooms at Children’s Hospital.

I never went to space, flew that jet or married that boy. But I finally shook Mario’s hand. I made a difference in the lives of others, just like I wanted to do at 17 ... and a Penguins player helped, just as I dreamed.

I learned a lesson: Pittsburgh, the little-big city, is small enough — and people care enough and stick around enough — that perseverance pays off. Dreams don’t become dwarfed and lost in a massive swarm of chaos. Mario shakes your nervous, sweaty hand; Kelly Johnson teaches your niece’s kindergarten class, and you realize she always was a kind soul; you don’t pilot the F-15 but you’re invited to fly with the 171st Air Refueling Wing and they let you sit in the cockpit during landing.

Dreams evolve — fade, even. But in Pittsburgh, with time and nurturing, they don’t have to die.

Except that fitted-sheet dream. I officially give up.
 

 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

PIT Turns to CMU to Make Airport Smartest in the World

The airport authority will use minds at CMU to discover ways to make it easier for passengers to get from the terminal’s parking lots to their seat on the plane.

Celebrate August Wilson's Birthday With a King and a Block Party

The ninth play in the 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle will open outside at the August Wilson House.

First Look: Soju in Garfield

Simon Chough’s Korean restaurant is six years in the making.

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

Reviews of "I Feel Pretty" and "Super Troopers 2," plus a rundown of events at the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.

Get Your Clark Bars While You Can – They May Soon Be Gone

Production of Pittsburgh native candy bar may halt if the current producer cannot find a new buyer.

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Bruno Sammartino Dies; Wrestling's Longtime Champ Was 82

The Italian-born star died surrounded by family in his adopted home of Pittsburgh.

It’s Road Repaving Season in Pittsburgh. Is Your Street on the List?

The City of Pittsburgh has finalized its street paving plan for 2018. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Three Rivers Champion: James S. Perry

Perry combined his love for athletics and volunteerism to create a youth athletic association that at its height provided organized softball and baseball to more than 350 boys and girls.

Three Rivers Art Festival Brings Music and New Art For 59th Summer

Point State Park, Gateway Center and sites across the Cultural District will host free, world-class art and events during this year’s 10-day festival.

Sound of Silence: Century III to be Sold at Sheriff's Sale

The nearly 40-year-old mall encounters foreclosure once again. Will this sale be the end of the line?

Pittsburgh Riverlife President & CEO Vivien Li Resigns

Li is returning to Boston to be with family members who are in declining health.

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


PIT Turns to CMU to Make Airport Smartest in the World

PIT Turns to CMU to Make Airport Smartest in the World

The airport authority will use minds at CMU to discover ways to make it easier for passengers to get from the terminal’s parking lots to their seat on the plane.

Comments

Celebrate August Wilson's Birthday With a King and a Block Party

Celebrate August Wilson's Birthday With a King and a Block Party

The ninth play in the 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle will open outside at the August Wilson House.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
First Look: Soju in Garfield

First Look: Soju in Garfield

Simon Chough’s Korean restaurant is six years in the making.

Comments

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

Smallman Galley will rotate its third class of chef/owners this June … but this time there’s a twist.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Comments

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

A coffee shop, an iconic landmark, an airport and beyond — these are the best places to practice the art of people watching.

Comments


Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

Comments

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

The bar team at the Strip District restaurant incubator continues its flights of fancy with Flashback Flavors.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Comments

Penguins Seeking 3-Peat With The Swagger of a Champion

Penguins Seeking 3-Peat With The Swagger of a Champion

The power play, star power and goaltending are among the primary weapons the Penguins have at their disposal in their quest for another championship. But so, too, is an unshakable belief they can hoist Lord Stanley's Cup three times in a row.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

Reviews of "I Feel Pretty" and "Super Troopers 2," plus a rundown of events at the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.

Comments

Despite The Rock, Rampage Is a Wild Misfire

Despite The Rock, Rampage Is a Wild Misfire

A review of "Rampage," plus an update on the former Friends of the Hollywood Theater and other local movie news.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.

Comments

How Lucky Socks Played a Key Role in Couple’s Wedding

How Lucky Socks Played a Key Role in Couple’s Wedding

A pair of puffin socks played a big role in this Pittsburgh couple’s relationship — and, in a surprise move by their pastor, their wedding.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Toll Gate Revival Gearing Up for New Location, New Experience

Toll Gate Revival Gearing Up for New Location, New Experience

The vintage décor and reclaimed materials business owned by Seth Hunter will open in a larger Lawrenceville warehouse next month.

Comments

Take a Sneak Peek at Our 2018 Ultimate House

Take a Sneak Peek at Our 2018 Ultimate House

Tours of Empire on Liberty, a one-time furniture and carpet warehouse in Bloomfield turned into a mixed-use structure, take place this month. The tour includes a look at the penthouse and two condos.

Comments