VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Coastal Virginia, aka The 757, is home to another Hall of Famer. Monday night, friends and neighbors in Virginia Beach celebrated Alan Faneca, one of the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Faneca, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006, was announced as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night - the eve of Super Bowl LV. Faneca and his wife Julie, who grew up in Virginia Beach and attended First Colonial High School, traveled to the Tampa Bay area Friday to participate in Hall of Fame activities throughout the weekend. Those events culminated with being introduced on the field at Super Bowl LV Sunday night.
Upon returning home to Hampton Roads Monday evening, friends and neighbors surprised Alan for a masked, socially-distanced salute at Trantwood Elementary. A fire engine and ladder truck from station eight of the Virginia Beach Fire Department was on hand for the celebration, as well.
"These are friends, neighbors and people who live in the neighborhood - people you see everyday," Faneca told News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler. "So that makes it special that they've been out here standing in the cold waiting for me to get back from my late flight."
Upon returning to their home following Monday's salute, the Fanecas were greeted by lighted letters displaying the message "2021 HOF 66" courtesy of Alpha-Lit Marquee Letters.
During his playing career, Alan and Julie spent offseasons in Virginia Beach - as her family is still in the area. Upon retirement, the Fanecas lived in New Orleans (Alan's hometown) and northern Virginia - but moved to Virginia Beach last decade.
"Virginia beach is great," Faneca noted. "We love it here. We love the lifestyle: living by the beach, the people here. Everybody is friendly. It's been a part of our lives for a long time, we've spent a lot of time here, so we just decided to make it home."
They now permanently call the area home and even own a small business in town.
Last year, Faneca launched ViraDecon - a safe, non-toxic fog method is helping to get rid of the Coronavirus in homes and other spaces.
Assisting neighbors as they recover and reopen from COVID-19 is just one of many community-focused ventures with which the Fanecas are involved.
The family also teams-up with Steven D’Achille to help raise awareness fof postpartum depression. D’Achille’s wife Alexis committed suicide in 2013 following the birth of the couple’s daughter Adriana. Steven established the Alexis Joy D’Achille Foundation which is designed to help women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
One in nine new mothers deal with postpartum depression, and Julie Faneca was treated for PPD following the birth of the couple's youngest child. D’Achille and the Fanecas believe education can be a major step toward helping women and their spouses get an early jump on PPD.
“Just trying to talk about it is the biggest thing,” Alan Faneca told the Associated Press. “Trying to put a light on the subject. So they can get people to talk about it.”
The Fanecas’ are also financial supporters of research into Sturge-Weber syndrome, a rare neurological disorder their daughter Anabelle was diagnosed with as a toddler. Additionally, the Fanecas are involved with Glimmer of Hope, a Pittsburgh-based breast cancer search foundation, and local organizations like We Are VB - which is committed to improving the quality of life and outcomes for homeless and at-risk high school students in Virginia Beach.
"Early on, we learned that we could do some really good things," Faneca said of his family's desire to give back. "That grew into helping and being part of the community. There are so many people out here that need help and need assistance. And to do that - it brings a smile to your face."
Faneca and the Class of 2021 will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021.