The “Terrible Towel” is more than just a rally towel for Pittsburgh Steelers fans. The black and gold rectangles of terrycloth waved frantically during games — along with other “Terrible Stuff” — support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Not only do royalties from sales go to Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Valley School for people with disabilities. The Wisconsin-based manufacturer, McArthur Towel & Sports, hires people with special needs.
Marketing manager Lexie McArthur said the company employs 50 people who do everything from applying decals to shipping.
“These are wonderful, wonderful people that really get behind the product,” she said. “For them to be able produce an item that they see waving on the TV screen and fans carrying around the country with them, it really is a rewarding experience. We’re really happy that we can provide that opportunity for them.”
The Terrible Towel was created by late Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope in 1975. About 20 years later, Cope gave the rights of the towel trademark to Allegheny Valley School. Since then, all of the royalties from the towels and other ‘terrible’ merchandise has gone to AVF.
When the Steelers do well, a school representative said there’s a significant increase in merchandise sales.
Dorothy Gordon, chief development officer with the school, said that means more programs and services for the 300 adults and children served in this region.
“The individuals that we care for are incredibly loyal fans to all our local teams, especially the Steelers,” she said. “It means so much to them that the Terrible Towel benefits their programs and everything that they do here at Allegheny Valley School.”
Since 1997 sales have raised more than $3 million dollars.