SCI Benner Township kicked off the Quarterbacks of Life program by hosting Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Rocky Bleier on Jan. 18 in the chapel. Quarterbacks of Life is a motivational program through the Beating the Odds Foundation aimed at encouraging incarcerated individuals to succeed.
During his presentation, Bleier shared from his nearly eight decades of memories, including being drafted into the Vietnam war — where he was seriously injured — and returning to football to become a four-time champion in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV. Bleier discussed his personal adversity and the work and focus it took for him to meet his goals.
In conjunction with Bleier, former Altoona Police Officer and Beating the Odds founder Rocco Scalzi shared about the program, which was initially brought to school-aged students in an effort to bring hope and success to under-served communities. The concept was then initiated inside prisons for inmates who also need to learn success and leadership techniques. Above all, Quarterbacks of Life and Beating the Odds promotes hope, and during the program inmates learn five steps to demonstrate they alone are the creators of their own destiny.
“Only you can change your life!” a Beating the Odds pamphlet reads. “No one can do it for you! You are not born a winner or a loser! You are born a ‘chooser.’ So, choose to live every day going forward better than your last. And lastly, you were not given a good life or a bad life. You were given a life to make good or bad. The secret to your future is what you do or fail to do today, tomorrow, and all the remaining days of your life.”
Participants in the Quarterbacks of Life program were identified by a list of randomly generated inmates that was provided to Ms. Rossman, CCPM, and Ms. Ramirez, principal. Those inmates were interviewed to determine their interest and willingness to commit to this program for six months. The inmates were divided into two cohorts with each including approximately 20 inmates — with two inmates serving a life sentence in each. Cohorts attend the programming separately for approximately six months in weekly 90-minute classes facilitated Ms. Lucas, treatment specialist, Ms. Cowder, social worker, and Mr. Daub, MAT program specialist.
Both cohorts were invited to attend Bleier’s initial presentation. There were approximately 40 inmates plus numerous staff in attendance. A question-and-answer session was afforded to the inmate population at the end of the presentation.