Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® President, Mike Stanfield, in conjunction with Nissan, the Festival’s Official Sports Marshal Sponsor, is extremely pleased to present Pittsburgh Steeler All-Pro Wide Receiver, Hines Ward, as the 2017 Festival Sports Marshal. Hines Edward Ward Jr. (born March 8, 1976) is currently an NBC studio analyst since retiring from the National Football League after fourteen seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played his college football at the University of Georgia in the rugged SEC. Selected in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft, he became the Steelers’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yardage and touchdown receptions. Ward was voted MVP of Super Bowl XL; and, upon retirement, was one of only 13 NFL players to have 1,000 or more career receptions. Since ending his football career, Ward has made multiple television and film appearances, including the reality TV series “Dancing with the Stars” [which he won]; and, cameos in the 2012 film “The Dark Knight Rises” and in the television series, “The Walking Dead.”
Hines Ward’s versatility and durability served him well as an NFL wide receiver. During his long pro career: he led the Steelers in at least one team category every year; earned three Steeler Most Valuable Player (MVP) selections; and, was named Co-Captain for the 2006 Steelers Super Bowl team. He is also a four-time consecutive NFL Pro Bowl selection (2001-2004); led the Steelers to the Super Bowl 3 times; and, is a 2-time Super Bowl champion. He broke many Steeler records including the all-time receptions record previously held by Hall of Famer, Lynn Swann. He is the only receiver in Steeler history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in four consecutive seasons and currently holds the team record for receptions in a single season. Ward joins previous Festival Guest, Jerry Rice, as the only two players in the history of the NFL to reach 1,000 career receptions and win multiple Super Bowls [he finished his prolific career with over 12,000 receiving yards].
Hines Ward’s mother (Kim Young-hee) is Korean and his father (Hines Ward, Sr.) is African-American. In April 2006, Ward spent 11 days in South Korea for the first time since his birth there 30 years ago. Ward made the trip with his mother as a gift to her, and to learn more about his Korean heritage, as well as to show good will to the people of Korea. While he was there, he met with the bi-racial children of the Pearl Buck Foundation to show them his support. Hines Ward went through frustrating times as a child, denying his Korean heritage to avoid being teased by American kids. He has developed a passion for helping children; and, started his own foundation for kids, the “Helping Hands” Foundation. He plans to continue to offer assistance to the mixed race children of South Korea, who face, in their homeland, the same teasing that he faced in America. “I will make the struggle to end bi-racial discrimination my chief cause, for which I will devote my time and resources, both in the United States and Korea,” said Ward, during a press conference before he returned home. Ward plans to return to South Korea each year through his Hines Ward “Helping Hands Korea” Foundation in partnership with the Pearl Buck Foundation to help mixed race children there. Hines Ward is known in Korea as the “Ambassador for Bi-Racial Children,” and hopes to make this his legacy both at home and abroad.
Superstar, Hines Ward, will be the Featured Speaker at the 2017 Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast presented by Grange Insurance. Festival Organizers expect the Steeler Nation to come out in force to buy the remaining tickets to this popular event. All remaining tickets to the 2017 Sports Breakfast will go on sale at the Official Festival Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet on Friday, April 7, at 10:00am, at 212 East Cork Street.