By Angela Altieri, Point Park News Service
Six hundred and twenty-seven. That may seem like a large number, but it’s not. It’s the number of votes that separated Conor Lamb and Rick Saccone in the Pennsylvania 18th District Special Election earlier this year.
Across the country, these sorts of slim margins have decided political elections in the United States. And yet, people are still reluctant to vote. Insert social awareness campaigns, like former first lady Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote.
As part of its Week of Action, the organization hosted an event Tuesday, Sep. 25, at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland slated to get people excited to vote, both those who are already committed to voting and those who may not be as interested.
Jim Rooney, Kiya Tomlin and the Steelers backup quarterback Josh Dobbs, were all slated to speak. With a city that loves their local heroes, the turnout with just these speakers alone would have been vast.
Instead of settling for this all-Pittsburgh crew, the event brought out the big guns: Tom Hanks, possibly the most-liked man in entertainment.
Hanks, who has starred in roles ranging from Woody in Disney’s “Toy Story” to the iconic role of Forrest Gump, has been in the Pittsburgh area filming the Mister Rogers biopic “You Are My Friend,” in which he will star as the title role.
The crowd waited anxiously for his headlining speech while waiting in an almost completely packed Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall. During this time, Steelers running back James Conner took to the stage explaining the excitement of the event.
Then, Dobbs, Rooney and Tomlin took the stage together.
Tomlin’s speech hit home with most of the crowd; she stated that “rich old white men” were running the country and then turned to Rooney to apologize, which got a hearty round of applause from the audience.
After the trio left the stage, a brief video featuring Michelle Obama played on screens at the front of the room, thanking everyone for coming out and getting ready to vote.
When Hanks took the stage, he sauntered out and spoke to the crowd with the ease that only Tom Hanks would be capable: all at once relatable, inspiring and rousing.
The bulk of his speech hung on the preamble of the Constitution of the United States, and his explanation of how voting makes us better citizens.
After this 45-minute event, I found it to be an inspiring event that left the crowd excited to get out and vote in the midterm elections on Nov. 6.
To register to vote you can text “WEALLVOTE” to 97779 or follow this link: https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote/