Event allows Pitt alumni a chance to give back

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Next weekend, the day after Pitt wraps up its spring season with its annual Blue-Gold game, Pitt alumni will gather Downtown to raise money and enjoy some sweets on the side.

The fifth annual "Dessert Tasting For A Cause" will take place April 13 at the Clemente Museum on Penn Avenue.

Former Pitt player Shawn Robinson has planned the event each of the past five years. Last year, the dessert tasting drew more than 300 to Larrimor's.

As they did last year, former Panthers Kris Wilson and Lousaka Polite will join the festivities as they hope to raise money for each of their respective charities.

"It's an opportunity for us, for the community, to contribute to a good cause, first and foremost," Wilson said. "After that, it's a great venue for former teammates of ours to get together, for former classmates of ours to get together."

Wilson's charity, The Kris Wilson Foundation, is targeted toward helping children achieve access to education and, specifically, reading. Part of the foundation is a group called "Kris' Lit Club," which helps children learn to read by exposing them to Associated Press articles and breaking them down by reading level.

"We feel like reading pretty much opens up a child's imagination and opens up different possibilities that they didn't even know existed," Wilson said.

Wilson, who caught 88 passes in four years as a tight end at Pitt, said his time at the university helped him appreciate what it meant to give back to his community.

"[I was] a young kid that comes from an environment that, statistically, things didn't look good," he said. "Being able to step out of a certain environment and into the collegiate environment where I was fortunate enough to compete in school, compete on the football field. I think, through competition in both of those arenas at the University of Pittsburgh, taught me a lot of lessons, brought me to a more mature place, taught me about hard work, discipline and commitment."

Polite, a Woodland Hills graduate, founded The Polite Way Foundation in 2009 to assist single mothers. He said he wanted to take a "umbrella approach" and provide assistance through whatever means he could, be it financially or otherwise.

The foundation has provided Thanksgiving turkey giveaways, Christmas toys and job placement help.

"It's just something that's close to my heart," Polite said. "I know a lot of single mothers. I would say we all do. I think we've all been impacted one way or another, whether directly or in directly. We all know how difficult it is in today's economy to survive."

This year, the Dessert Tasting For A Cause is adding a pre-tasting April 12 and a VIP reception at Larrimor's from 5 to 7 p.m. before the main event, which runs from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. All proceeds will go directly to help the two charities.

Companies donating desserts include Gullifty's, Dream Cream Ice Cream, The DoubleTree Hotel, Moio's Italian Pastry Shop, Sweet Sophistication, Cake Eaters Sweet Shoppe and Godiva Chocolatier.

Tickets for the event, which range from $30 for the pre-tasting to $100 for the VIP reception, can be purchased at http://desserttastingforacause.com.

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Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.


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