Ruston rallies with super send-off for super Seahawks fan headed to her first game

As she got ready to step into a limo that would whisk her and friends to the Seahawks game, Sherri Forch deemed Saturday a “never-forget-it kind of day.”

Forch is the Ruston fan who has been rooting for the Seahawks since their first season in 1976, but who had never been to a game. So friends, family members and fans from around the South Sound community rallied resources to send the 71-year-old and several friends off in style Saturday.

“I’m humbled. I’m impressed. I’m speechless,” Forch told a standing-room-only gathering that packed Don’s Ruston Market & Deli for the occasion. “But I’m going to find my voice at the game.”

Forch, who has been battling the autoimmune disease scleroderma for 20 years, needs an oxygen tank to breathe and a wheelchair to move around any great distance. But she can stand up on her own.

And she planned to fully exercise that ability during the game.

“When they say ‘bring on the earthquake,’ I’ll be standing and stomping my feet with everybody else,” she said.

Forch’s son Hal, who is rooting for the team from his home in Arizona, came through with tickets on the 50-yard-line for Forch and friend Sara Anderson, a member of Ruston’s volunteer fire department who accompanied her to the game. A Lakewood fan lent Forch his official Seahawks coat, her niece Dawn Fairless made her a Seahawks fleece blanket to take to the stadium, and a Gig Harbor man offered Forch and her party a ride in the limo.

“I want one!” Sherri joked, as she stepped into the vehicle, which was decked out with a pair of 12th Man flags.

Plenty of people in tiny Ruston — which has a population that’s less than some local high schools — know Forch.

“She has been a strong supporter of the fire department, and she’s become like a beacon for the town,” said Anderson. “This is going to be amazing for Sherri. I think we’re going to bring home a win.”

Well-wishers on Saturday included members of the Ruston police and fire departments, as well as Ruston neighbor Gene Tagaban, a Native American storyteller who performs as “One Crazy Raven.” He brought his carved hawk mask and wings, and danced a send-off for Forch as she prepared to depart.

Forch led everyone in a chant of “Sea!” “Hawks!”

Then she was off to Seattle to see her heroes in person.