Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ life-changer Russell Wilson does it again on another Tuesday at Seattle Children’s

“Kick butt!” That’s what little Mason thinks of Russell Wilson’s weekly visits to Seattle Children’s hospital. The Seahawks quarterback did it again on Tuesday, an act far more important than rallying his team past the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., two days earlier.
“Kick butt!” That’s what little Mason thinks of Russell Wilson’s weekly visits to Seattle Children’s hospital. The Seahawks quarterback did it again on Tuesday, an act far more important than rallying his team past the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., two days earlier.

Russell Wilson was at it again.

And it was far better and more important than what the Seahawks quarterback did rallying his team past Carolina two days earlier.

Yet another Tuesday. Yet another set of lives Wilson bettered.

Wilson made his weekly visit to Seattle Children’s hospital in the Laurelhurst neighborhood on Tuesday. And Mason was pumped.

“Kick butt!” That’s how little Mason describes Wilson’s visits to our region’s premier center for pediatric medicine.

Two years earlier Wilson brought Mason a new pair of signed Nike shoes.

Two years ago. That’s how long Mason and many other kids like him who have come from across the country in search of specialized, essential care have had treatment at Seattle Children’s. That’s through weekends, holidays, birthdays, all days.

“Forever grateful for the excitement, hope and laughter he brings our patient families with his weekly visits,” Seattle Children’s wrote on its Twitter page last month. That was after another of Wilson’s visits, just before he and the team flew to London to play Oakland.

This week of NFL games is the annual one when players wear special game shoes customized for a cause of their choice. Those cleats are then usually auctioned off or donated to the players’ charities.

Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald showed off what he will be wearing Sunday when the Seahawks host San Francisco at CenturyLink Field. They are for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

When I asked Wilson in October why he goes to Seattle Children’s each week, the Seahawks’ franchise quarterback and $87.6-million superstar got as real as he ever gets.

Wilson talked far more extensively and genuinely about that than anything he uttered about that week’s game.

“Children’s hospital has meant a lot to me,” Wilson said. “I got here in May, May 11th, 2012, and one of the things was... I went to children’s hospitals at NC State and at Wisconsin and everything else, and that’s one of the things I wanted to do. When I got to Seattle, whatever city I went to, I wanted to make a difference in that city in a way that meant something.

“My mom (Tammy) grew up as an ER nurse, when I was growing up she was an ER nurse, was always in hospitals. My dad was a diabetic who passed away from diabetes. They were always in a hospital, for whatever reason.”

Harrison Wilson III was a one-time San Diego Chargers wide receiver who graduated from Dartmouth. He became a lawyer, married Russell’s mother and had two sons and a daughter with her. He died in 2010 from complications with diabetes. He was 55.

Russell Wilson with his father Harrison Wilson III while Russell was in high school at the Collegiate School in Richmond, Va. Harrison Wilson died in 2010 at age 55 from complications with diabetes. Photo courtesy of the Collegiate School

Wilson was attending and playing his final season for North Carolina State at the time of his dad’s death. The Colorado Rockies had just selected the middle infielder in the Major League Baseball draft. Two years later, the Seahawks drafted Wilson in the third round from Wisconsin, where he had transferred and led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl.

When Wilson goes to Seattle Children’s each Tuesday, he does so while remembering those final days with his father in the hospital. Those were warm yet lonely times, when faith and each other was often all he and his dad shared.

“And it was always challenging,” Wilson said. “It was always challenging to me, because you may not have many people around. You may not have many family members around. It might just be you (in that hospital room). I remember many times it was just me and my dad in the room. Or just my mom and my sister with my dad, whatever it may be. Sometimes it’s just the whole family.

“But really, in a hospital you feel alone sometimes.”

So he goes to see Hunter in the cancer ward to sit on his bed and share a video, as he did last month.

Russell Wilson visited Hunter on the latest of the Seahawks quarterback’s weekly visits to Seattle Children’s hospital Tuesday. “You inspire me, Hunter,” Wilson told the boy. Seattle Children's/Strong Against Cancer

Down the hall he sees Frida, and signs a pink football for her.

He did that last month, too.

Yes, I write a lot about Wilson going to Seattle’ Children’s. Yes, my wife works there. She sees first-hand the impact Wilson’s visits and the anticipation for them each week have on those kids in need there, and their families. It’s transformative. It’s real.

A hundred, a thousand, stories about that aren’t too many.

We all dissect his passer rating, his running and his decisions with the ball on Sundays.

Yet what he does on Tuesdays is far more lasting and important than what Wilson will do again this Sunday, when the Seahawks host the 49ers in a football game.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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