The Terrible Towel®

The Terrible Towel® and Allegheny Valley School

You may be curious why The Terrible Towel® is included in Allegheny Valley School's web site. The answer is: Because Myron Cope was a dedicated friend to AVS.

During any game involving the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is a sea of towels waving throughout the stands. This colorful vision is created by The Terrible Towel®.

In 1975, The Terrible Towel® was created by the late Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope to inspire fan involvement in a playoff game against the then-Baltimore Colts. Over thirty-five years later, The Terrible Towel® remains a Steelers fan essential.And since 1996, the sale of any The Terrible Towel® product benefits the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are served by Allegheny Valley School.

In 1996, Myron Cope, a long-time friend to Allegheny Valley School, walked into AVS' former President and CEO Regis Champ's office and said, "Rege, I've got a gift for the school." He then handed over documents that gave the ownership of The Terrible Towel® trademark to Allegheny Valley School. From that day forward, the proceeds from the sale of any "Terrible Stuff" (including towels, earrings, hats, tote bags, t-shirts and more) have come to Allegheny Valley School. The funds that Allegheny Valley School receives from The Terrible Towel® are contributed to the Capital Development Fund and used to cover costs such as equipment, program expansions and renovations to our facilities.

Why did Myron make this generous gift to AVS? In the words of our late friend, "Allegheny Valley School is the very best organization of its kind I know of, and I speak from experience," says Cope. "My son, who was born brain-damaged and can neither speak nor otherwise function normally, has lived at Allegheny Valley School since 1982. For my late wife Mildred and me, Allegheny Valley School was a Godsend. My son is happy and is cared for with expertise, understanding and love."

Long-time friend to Allegheny Valley School, Myron Cope passed away on February 27, 2008. Myron's involvement with AVS stretched more than a quarter century. In addition to his support of AVS through The Terrible Towel®, in 1983, he founded the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, an annual vintage car event that raises funds to support Allegheny Valley School and The Autism Society of Pittsburgh.

When the Steelers play, fans around the world enthusiastically wave The Terrible Towel®. And they buy more "Terrible Stuff." Since 1996, Allegheny Valley School has realized more than $4 million from The Terrible Towel® and related items.

You can cheer on the Steelers and also support Allegheny Valley School by purchasing Myron Cope's Official The Terrible Towel®. Products include a wide variety of towels (black, gold, golf, toddler, beach and woven), lapel pins, earrings, key chains, license plates and more. To order call 1-800-832-6883 or order online at In addition to these products the trademark has been licensed for use on other products including:

The Terrible Towel® cookies, Bethel Bakery, Inc. (

All officially licensed products contain a tag that identifies that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the item will benefit Allegheny Valley School. If you see a The Terrible Towel® product for sale and it does not include this tag, it may be unlicensed. If you spot a product without the tag, please contact Dorothy Hunter Gordon ( or 412-299-7777) with the details.

Read news articles about The Terrible Towel®.

Read details about Pittsburgh Brand Madness.


Dorothy Hunter Gordon, Chief Development Officer at NHS Allegheny Valley School, on the History of the Terrible Towel

by Pittsburgh Sports Daily Bulletin

Since 1996, AVS has received the royalties from The Terrible Towel®. The trademark is held by AVS Foundation for the benefit of Allegheny Valley School. AVS Foundation is a private foundation.

Q: First, can you tell readers about the AVS Foundation NHS Allegheny Valley School and what your role is when it comes to The Terrible Towel?

A: NHS Allegheny Valley School (AVS) is a private, non-profit organization established in 1960 to care for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). AVS was founded to care for ten children with intellectual disabilities for whom a closing orphanage had been unable to find adoptive families.
For more than fifty years, AVS has been providing compassionate care for the most vulnerable of our citizens – those with IDD. Today, AVS is a multi-faceted organization with programs and facilities serving more than 900 individuals. Eighty percent (80%) of our residents are diagnosed with severe or profound intellectual disabilities; most also have multiple physical disabilities, medical complications and some have behavior support needs.
In 2008, AVS was acquired by NHS Human Services ( NHS, now including AVS, is the largest non-profit provider of services to individuals with IDD in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. AVS receives the royalties from The Terrible Towel®.



ESPN's It's Not Crazy, It's Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers fans from around the world submitted their photos and videos featuring The Terrible Towel® as part of ESPN's It's Not Crazy, It's Sports campaign. Submissions were accepted in fall 2011 and according to Associate Marketing Manager A.J. Mazza, ESPN received more than 2,000 submissions. Photos and videos of The Terrible Towel® were submitted from many countries, in numerous stadiums, at weddings, from outer space, and from many other locations near and far! Some NHS/AVS consumers and employees got in on the fun and submitted their photos with The Terrible Towel®!

Thanks to ESPN for highlighting Allegheny Valley School and The Terrible Towel® through It's Not Crazy, It's Sports.