Ben Roethlisberger is best known for the 18 years he spent as a star quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He led the team to three Super Bowls and won two of them, but the athlete is unlikely to cite football as the driving force in his life. Instead, he says, “I think my faith has played a huge role, [along with] my commitment to philanthropy.” 

When Big Ben walked off the gridiron in 2022, he did so with an estimated net worth of $100 million. And while many athletes fritter away their paydays on fancy cars and homes, Roethlisberger says he bucks that trend by endeavoring to use his green for good. In 2007, he launched his eponymous charity, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which helps support police departments’ K-9 units by supplying them with grants. 

“I realize that the money is not mine, but it’s been given to me by the Lord, so I’m supposed to do everything I can to help give back and to help grow his kingdom and support the less fortunate. As professional athletes we have a duty to give back to the community that has given so much to us. We have been blessed as athletes and put on a pedestal, and so it’s great for us to be able to use that pedestal and use our recognition to give back just a little bit of what has been given to us.”

Guided by the Light
Mere minutes away from where he caught plenty of pigskins at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, now Acrisure Stadium, these days you can find Roethlisberger catching the good word at Christ Church at Grove Farm, which he calls “our home church for many years now.” He notes that it’s a place of prayer and a source of inspiration for his philanthropic efforts.

“The many charitable missions that the church reaches and helps support really aligns with our family values and what we want to do in life.”

As a result, he has partnered with the nearby Light of Life Rescue Mission, an organization that provides meals to the homeless population in Pittsburgh. 

“Light of Life is really just a great organization that we have gotten behind because of all the amazing work they do locally here in the community. Especially with being a faith-based organization. [Assistant executive director] Doug Smith and all the people there really just know how to shine the light of Jesus into people’s lives in so many different ways.” 

Making Hard Choices

Identifying the causes and organizations Roethlisberger wishes to support through philanthropy can be a daunting task, he acknowledges. After all, Roethlisberger admits, “One of the biggest challenges when it comes to philanthropic work is figuring out who to help. There are so many great organizations out there that can and do need help so to try and figure out which ones to give to or which ones to help can always be a challenge.” 

He thanks God for his teammate in life to help him along the way. “My wife and I make a lot of these decisions together. I value her opinion and her feelings as well as my own.” And after that? Well, making the final call is a decision that, for him, is always guided by faith. Says Roethlisberger, “I think the biggest thing you have to do is pray about it and really see what affects your heart and moves you to help.”

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By Manali