PEAL Honors Pair Whose Enduring Friendship Sets Example

Article excerpt

Tyler Palko's friendship with Chris McGough began when they were growing up on the same street in Imperial.

"We met just playing sports on the street," Palko said.

McGough has Down syndrome, but that did not hamper their friendship. They both loved sports. When Palko was a star player on the West Allegheny High School football team, McGough was team manager.

Palko, 28, and McGough, 23, still bond over football, but their friendship runs deeper than a game.

"His honesty -- he doesn't care about anything else but you," said Palko, who plays quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. "He doesn't care how much money you make. He doesn't care if you're in the paper or in a magazine.

"He just wants you to do well."

Palko and McGough will receive the Enduring Friendship Award on March 10 from the Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership Center (PEAL) at its first Inclusion Awards Dinner.

The center, in Pittsburgh's Strip District, helps families of children with disabilities and special needs, particularly with education and health care issues. It has an annual budget of about $600,000, funded by federal and state government agencies, as well as fundraisers and statewide organizations. It is operated by 15 paid staffers, as well as volunteers.

Palko and McGough's relationship highlights a major goal of the center: inclusion. …