Myron Cope award going to Hillgrove

HICKORY – After a brief hiatus, the Hickory Lions Club will present the 2013 Myron Cope Legend in Sports Award to Bill Hillgrove, at a dinner July 25 at the Hickory Fire Hall.

The doors open at 5 p.m. for an auction and drawing featuring sports memorabilia, donated by area sports franchises, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins, and dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for the Leaders Dogs for the Blind, which is one of the club’s supported charities.

Hillgrove is the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh football and basketball play-by-play announcer. He also worked with Cope for many years on Steelers broadcasts.

The Lions Club has been involved with the Leader Dogs for the Blind program for several decades, training dozens of puppies for eventual partnering with a blind person as a leader dog. Lions Linda and Charlie Ogburn provide first-year training and socializations for puppies in the program. The puppies then are turned over to Leader Dogs, where their training is finished and they are matched to their companions. Leader Dogs for the Blind, located in Rochester, Mich., provides working animal companions to assist the blind in everyday living.

In 2008, the dinner’s inaugural year, the Hickory Lions were among the top 20 clubs contributing toward the program out of the approximately 6,000 clubs from across the world that contribute each year.

The award was authorized and endorsed by Cope just prior to his death. It was created with Cope’s blessing to recognize an iconic Pittsburgh-area sports figure.

In its inaugural year in 2008, Andy Russell, former Pittsburgh Steeler and All-Pro linebacker, received the award. John Banazak, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, received it in 2009, and Jim Leyland, former Pittsburgh Pirates and current Detroit Tigers manager, received it in 2010.

Special guests at the dinner will include Paul Alexander, Steve Blass, Dick Groat, Guy Junker, Alby Oxenreiter, Andrew Stockey, Kent Tekulve and Sally Wiggin. Lion Jim Meston, a motivational speaker and frequent contributor to Dapper Dan dinners, will be the master of ceremonies.

Tickets to attend the dinner are $30 per person. They are available at the Hickory Subway, Cherry Hill Grill on state Route 18 or Day Insurance located at 78 Main St.

Tickets also can be purchased by sending a check payable to the Hickory Lions Club to Regina Schohn, 23 Wabash Ave., Hickory, PA 15340. Include a self-addressed, self-stamped envelope.

Tickets are limited; less than 300 will be sold.

The event benefits Leader Dogs and other Hickory Lions-supported charities.