By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – From winning the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, to playing football with the Pittsburg Steelers and winning four Super Bowl rings, Rocky Bleier is the true definition of success.
He played college football at the University of Notre Dame and graduated in 1968 with a degree in business management. While there he led the Fighting Irish to a National Championship in 1966 and served as team captain in 1967.
After college, Bleier experienced two drafts. The first was by the NFL to the Pittsburg Steelers. He saw little action in his first year but did not know a second draft awaited him in December of 1968 into the U.S. Army, as his rookie year ended.
At a time when President Nixon was coming into office, Bleier found himself serving on the battle fields of Vietnam. After his platoon was ambushed, he was seriously injured, losing part of his foot in a grenade blast and was told by doctors he would never play professional football again.
After such harrowing, heart-wrenching news, where did Bleier find the strength and courage to go on to win four Super Bowl rings?
Bleier will tell his story on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at the Jackson Convention Complex for Catholic Charities Journey of Hope fundraiser luncheon at 12 p.m. A sponsorship meet and greet event will be held Monday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m., where guest will have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Bleier.
Julie O’Brien, development associate at Catholic Charities, feels that Bleier is the perfect fit for their Journey of Hope event. “[He] has a tremendous message of encouragement, hope and helping those who have been less fortunate in life. His support of veterans and their families coincides with our Supportive Services for Veteran families program and the other programs at Catholic Charities,” said O’Brien.
For over 50 years, Catholic Charities has strived to provide help and create hope for residents of the 65 counties of the Diocese of Jackson. With a breadth of services that include adoption, mental health counseling, refugee and immigrant services, domestic violence shelters and counseling, housing for low-income families and elderly, emergency assistance and veteran support, among many others, Catholic Charities is here to serve all of God’s children.
Being a veteran himself, Bleier appreciates how Catholic Charities works to provide housing stability among low-income veteran families and the outreach and case management services the organization provides to them.
“I have seen the difficulty that some of our veterans have in making the transition from military to civilian life. I believe that home ownership is one of the foundations for that transition and veterans are a proud group of people who at times find it difficult to ask for help,” says Bleier.
For the Journey of Hope event, Catholic Charities needs table leader volunteers. Information on the event and volunteering can be found at www.catholiccharitiesjackson.org or by contacting Julie O’Brien at 601-326-3758, email Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.