Saturday, March 2, 2013

Myron Cope

Autism Light #262 is Myron Cope.

Courtesy of Autism Society of Pittsburgh

Beloved by fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers and honored by a grateful community where he lived his entire life, Myron Cope's last words were said five years ago, but his charitable legacy continues to give a voice to those, like his son Danny, who live in the silent world of autism. Born on January 23, 1929, and passing away on February 27, 2008, Myron Cope was preceded in death by his wife Mildred and was survived by a daughter Elizabeth and an autistic son Danny. Myron Cope is an Autism Light for supporting leading autism organizations in the Pittsburgh area and giving his son Danny a legacy through his humble support. Myron Cope will also be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

The following is an Obituary on Myron Cope that aired on Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV after his death.

Sports Writer and Commentator: Myron Cope was best known for being the color commentator for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 35 years from 1970-2005. During his career he also was involved in other media ventures in the Pittsburgh area for sports enthusiasts. Myron Cope was also a sports writer in his early career and did a famous interview with Howard Cosell that is considered a Sports Illustrated Classic. You can still read the article on the Sports Illustrated Website.

Pro Football Hall of Fame: Myron Cope retired in 2005 and that year he received the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozella Radio-Television Award (Source).

The following is a news story of Myron Cope's funeral service by WTAE-TV in 2005.

Terrible Towel: In 1975 during the Pittsburgh Steelers playoff run, Myron Cope created what is regarded as the first rally towel in sports. Called the Terrible Towel, the Pittsburgh Steeler's fan towel is black and gold and says "Myron Cope Official The Terrible Towel".  In 1996, Myron Cope signed over the rights for the Terrible Towel to the Alleghany Valley School, where his son Danny lives. Sales of the towel have generated over $3 Million dollars for the school.

Elizabeth Cope, Myron's daughter, believes that the Terrible Towel  is symbolic of much more than football and is a legacy to her autistic brother Danny. She said, "He's like the invisible face. He's the main man really behind the terrible towel. My dad is known for his voice and he has a son that doesn't speak, isn't able to speak and he's kind of given him an enormous voice (Source)."

Alleghany Valley School: Today about 900 children, adults, and senior adults with developmental disabilities, such as autism, are served by the Alleghany Valley School. More information on the school is available at their Website at

After Myron Cope's death it was revealed that he had also quietly been donating millions of dollars to the Alleghany Valley School through his speaking engagements.  In 2008 the Alleghany Valley School's CEO Regis Davis told reporter Mike Wereschagin that whenever Myron Cope was paid to give a speech he would ask that the check be made payable to Allegheny Valley School or he would later sign it over himself to the school (Source). 

Regis Davis said, "This was his income...He never needed any notoriety, never wanted any attention brought to all this. Danny is the center of Myron's universe. He was completely dedicated to Danny, to his care, to his progress (Source)."

Autism Society of Pittsburgh: Myron Cope was one of a group of individuals who founded the Autism Society of Pittsburgh in 1967, helping them get their first grant for operations. He also served on their board of directors for many years. The mission statement of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh is this:
Since 1967, the Autism Society of Pittsburgh has been the local action unit of the Autism Society of America, the foremost voice and resource of the nation's autism community. We are comprised of volunteers, parents and professionals, working on behalf of all children and those of adult age on the autism spectrum. Our objective is to improve the lives of those with autism and related disorders of behavior and communication (Source).
For more details on the work and mission of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh visit their website at

The Autism Society of Pittsburgh continues to benefit from those who wish to pay tribute to Myron Cope. One of the organization's key fundraisers is the Myron Cope/ Foge Fazio Memorial Golf Classic.  The 2013 event will be held on June 10, 2013. For more information on the 2013 event visit the golf tournament's section of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh's Website.

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix: Myron Cope is also responsible for founding the charitable Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix which had it's first race in 1983. Several million dollars of funds from the race over the decades have benefited both the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Alleghany Valley School. More information on the event is available at their Wikipedia page.

Other Information: For more information on Myron Cope's life visit his Wikipedia page. You can also read his obituary published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Through this post being placed with others on the blog today, Autism Light wishes to give a special shout out for Myron Cope. The legacy he left his son Danny and the support his name gives to the Alleghany Valley School and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh has made a tremendous difference for hundreds of people with autism in the Pittsburgh area. For the autism community, Myron Cope was much more than a dynamic hall of fame sports announcer. Myron Cope was like so many other autism fathers who quietly gave what resources he had at his disposal to make a difference for the cause that personally touched his own child. And what a difference he is making.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photo of Myron Cope was used with permission of Daniel Torisky and is credited to the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.

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