The Terrible Towel®

The Terrible Towel® and Allegheny Valley School

the terrible towel During any game involving the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is a sea of towels waving throughout the stands. What creates this colorful vision? 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. Decades later, The Terrible Towel remains a Steelers fan essential. And for the past 27 years, the sale of any The Terrible Towel product benefits the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are supported by Merakey Allegheny Valley School (AVS).

In 1996, Myron Cope gave the ownership of The Terrible Towel trademark to AVS.  Since then, the royalties from the sale of all officially licensed “Terrible Stuff” (including towels, ties, ornaments, lapel pins, flags, bibs, cookies, temporary tattoos and more) have come to Merakey AVS.

Merakey AVS has been providing services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1960.  The organization was founded to provide care for 10 children for whom a closing orphanage was unable to find adoptive families.  For more than 60 years Merakey AVS has been providing compassionate care for some of our society’s most vulnerable citizens. Today, Merakey AVS provides services to more than 650 individuals through 120 programs and facilities in nine counties across Pennsylvania. In 2008, AVS became an affiliate of Merakey (formally NHS Human Services, Inc.). Merakey (, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, is one of the nation’s leading non-profit providers of community-based education and human services.

When the Steelers play, fans around the world enthusiastically wave The Terrible Towel. And they buy more “Terrible Stuff.” Since 1996, Merakey AVS has realized over $8 million from officially licensed The Terrible Towel products. The funds that Merakey AVS receives from The Terrible Towel are used to cover costs such as equipment, program development and renovations to our facilities. The Terrible Towel directly helps to improve the quality of life for the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are supported by Merakey AVS.

You can cheer on the Steelers and also support Merakey AVS by purchasing Myron Cope's Official The Terrible Towel® products. To order, call 1-800-832-6883 or order online at All officially licensed products contain a tag that identifies that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the item will benefit Merakey 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 the Development Department at or 412-299-7777 with the details.