You’re a student from Boise’s Hazel Lake Middle School, and you’re attending your first professional sporting event: The Seahawks’ game against the Carolina Panthers at Qwest Field last Sunday.
The experience is phenomenal, or amazing?
Make it both. That’s how Hailee Fogg and Evaline Amador described their close encounter with Seahawks football – from being on the sideline before the game, to watching it from 50-yard line seats, to being part of the crowd of 66,577 who witnessed the unveiling of Walter Jones’ retired number just before halftime, to the home team’s rapid-fire rally to open the second half of the 31-14 victory.
“It was phenomenal,” said Hailee, who is 12 and in the seventh grade. “It was my first NFL game, so I was really happy and excited about it. I’d seen Qwest Field, but I’d never been there.”
“It was amazing,” added Evaline, who is 14 and in the eighth grade. “It was great being on the field before the game and we had really good seats, too.”
The girls were selected to attend the game because of their fund-raising efforts in a jog-a-thon, which was part of their school’s Fuel Up to Play 60 kickoff event in September – sponsored by the Idaho Dairy Council, in addition to the National Football League.
The favorite parts of their special day?
Hailee liked the ceremony to unveil Jones’ No. 71 jersey in the rafters at Qwest. “That was really amazing,” she said. “It was really cool.”
Evaline opted for her encounter with Blitz, the team mascot. “When we were on the field for warm-ups, we got to see Blitz riding around on his scooter,” she said. “That was really fun, and so being so close to everything that was happening.”
The jog-a-thon raised money for their school’s athletic programs, and the Fuel Up to Play 60 program encourages kids to eat healthy and play at least 60 minutes a day.
But being selected to attend the Seahawks’ game made Hailee and Evaline feel like the ultimate winners.
“It was a great day,” Evaline said.
The world was at Brandon Jackson’s disposal.
His wish became a command as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s program. So what did the 14-year-old from Federal Way want? To attend a Seahawks practice and meet quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
That wish came true Friday, and then some.
“It’s really, really cool,” Jackson said in the locker room.
The cool treatment began when Jackson and his parents arrived at the Seahawks headquarters, where a VIP parking space awaited them. They then watched practice – with Brandon wearing his own No. 8 jersey with Jackson on the back. Afterward the players filed by, thanking Brandon for coming out. Some even gave him their gloves and later autographed them.
Then, it was time to visit the locker room, where Jackson had his own locker – right next to Hasselbeck’s. He later had lunch with Hasselbeck in the team cafeteria.
Why the Seahawks, and that one player in particular?
“Because I wanted to meet Matt Hasselbeck and all the players,” he said. “Matt is my favorite player and he’s a great quarterback.”
Hasselbeck now has a new No. 1 fan. Jackson suffered a stroke during open-heart surgery as a baby that left him with several physical disabilities.
“It’s absolutely humbling,” said Hasselbeck, who did not practice because of the fractured rib he got in last week’s game against the 49ers in San Francisco. “Suddenly, my ribs don’t hurt nearly as much. You know?
“This is really a cool thing, and the Seahawks do an awesome job of giving the Make-A-Wish kids an incredible experience.”
Click here to highlights from Brandon’s visit