Ivory Carl perked up as the commotion in the hallway neared her hospital room. And when the footsteps drew closer, she rushed toward the doorway, meeting the gaze of her three much-taller visitors.
There they were: Kam Chancellor, and twin brothers Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin. Real-life Seahawks, retired and current, here in her wing of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
“I love the Seahawks,” the 7-year-old blurted out. But not before rushing forward and hugging Chancellor with about the same force the Seahawks safety would lay on receivers for the eight years he spent with Seattle before retiring this year.
“I love hugs, too,” Chancellor said, bending forward to meet her embrace. “I love hugs.”
For about an hour and a half Wednesday, the Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart belonged to the 12s and their players. Arriving just before noon, the three – along with Seahawks public relations staf and Chancellor’s wife, Tiffany – walked the halls and filed into room after room.
It was an occasion that is quickly becoming a Sacred Heart tradition. Last year, then-Seahawks Luke Willson and Tanner McEvoy made a similar trip in November, leaving a similar trail of smiles and laughs.
Some, like Carl, were expecting a visit this time around, having been told ahead of time they’d be stopping by her room. Others, such as 9-year-old Marcus Fenn, seized the moment to sneak in a photo and a handshake when opportunity arose.
“He saw them and knew he had to meet them,” his stepmother Jennifer Fenn said.
After a successful first impression, Marcus Fenn reflected on a gift well received.
“I call my other one Seahawk,” he said, motioning toward his new Seahawks-patterned stuffed bear. “Now I’m gonna name this one Seattle.”
Down the hall, a family of five was inundated with well-wishes. Ben Brown, with his 4-month-old daughter in his arms, talked with Chancellor for several minutes as his 1-year-old son rested on a nearby hospital bed.
After a few weeks, the young father of three said doctors still weren’t sure of a prognosis.
“He just wished us the best,” Brown said of Chancellor. “And good luck.”
Before making their rounds, the Griffin brothers and Chancellor – who flew into the Spokane International Airport on Tuesday morning sponsored by the Providence Health Care Foundation – said they were most excited to see the smiles on the children’s faces.
“That’s why we’re here,” Shaquill Griffin said.
For his brother Shaquem, who had his left hand amputated at the age of 4, visiting kids in the hospital takes on a slightly different meaning. Since being drafted this year by the Seahawks and joining his brother on defense, he’s received an outpouring of support from young different-limbed fans who now have a favorite player.
“Me playing football, not playing football, having the opportunity to play again on this level, this platform – it’s amazing to see,” he said. “I’m seeing so many kids now trying to live their dreams.”
And then there were those who had not a clue what was happening.
“Let me be honest right here, right now,” 14-year-old Michael Weaver said. “I’m not a football person, so I have no idea who you are.”
No matter. Rather than talk football, the three watched Weaver showcase his video-game skills, after letting everyone know how much he appreciated Spider-Man.
Moments later, Chancellor’s No. 1 hospital fan was back, sneaking up behind him for another hug just before he and the Griffins were set to leave.
Before parting ways, Ivory gave them a gift. A chant – no doubt ingrained in their eardrums – that tens of thousands of eager fans scream each home game.
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