Lazzara to be honored for community service

Attorney Beth A. Lazzara will be presented with PaTLA’s Community Service Award Oct 10.

by Kristy Mitchell

(9/29/03) -- The Pittsburgh Steelwheelers will soon have a new facility for wheelchair athletes, thanks in large part to PaTLA Treasurer Beth A. Lazzara.

Lazzara is the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association’s (WPTLA) President’s Challenge 5K Run, Walk & Wheel, which benefits the Pittsburgh Steelwheelers. The Pittsburgh Steelwheelers is a group of wheelchair-bound athletes. “I started the event over three years ago, and we’ve raised over $38,000 in that time. It’s wonderful to see what it has done for the group.  They are re-energized.  It’s the thing I’m most proud of,” said Lazzara.

During the first year of the event, the Steelwheelers only had a budget of $5,000 and could do very little on that amount to help their members.  The President’s Challenge that year raised $8,000. The second year, $11,500 was raised. Lazzara said, “We raised over $18,000 this year, and I think we can raise $25,000 next year. The number of firms supporting the race is amazing.”

Due to the increased public awareness created by the President’s Challenge and the Steelwheelers’ own renewed sense of purpose that receiving community support has given them, the group was donated a plot of land on which they plan to build a new athletic facility for wheelchair athletes of all kinds.  According to Lazzara, “The building will be one-of-a-kind. It’s a multi-million dollar project, and the plans are just amazing. They never would have been able to do this without the energy that they now feel because of our race.”

In recognition of her outstanding commitment to the community, Lazzara will be awarded PaTLA’s Community Service Award on Fri., Oct. 10. Lazzara is a shareholder and managing partner in the Pittsburgh law firm of Goodrich, Goodrich & Lazzara, P.C.

Lazzara is also writer and coordinator of the Victims’ Stories PaTLA sends to legislators on a weekly basis. This program is designed to increase lawmakers’ awareness of the gravity of a bill to cap non-economic damages for those injured by the negligence of another. “It’s terrible to see the stories of suffering every single week. However, it’s really uplifting knowing that all these people could have wallowed in self-pity, but they haven’t, and they make the best of their situation and get on with their life. To agree to let their tragedy be known for the good of other citizens is a testament to their dedication to the community,” said Lazzara. She went on to say, “I would dare anyone to read these stories—and not just one of them, but each of them—and say that a $250,000 cap is fair.”

In honor of victims who have rebounded from their tragedies, Lazzara also created the Comeback Award, presented by WPTLA. This year was the third year for this award.

Lazzara is also involved with the Brighton Heights Citizens Federation, a community organization in Pittsburgh. She is a member of their Board of Directors, their Housing Committee, and was Co-Chair of this year’s Children’s Festival. Said Lazzara, “I feel that you have to give back to the community where you live and the community where you work.”

Lazzara graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1991, cum laude. She has taught 53 CLE Seminars and presentations over the past 10 years and will begin teaching a course at the University of Pittsburgh in January as an adjunct professor. Lazzara also recently finished an eight-year term as editor of The Advocate, WPTLA’s newsletter. In all, Lazzara has published over 150 articles in various professional publications. Lazzara resides in Pittsburgh with her husband and law partner Bill Goodrich.

Kristy Mitchell is PaTLA’s Communications Associate.