Student athletes surprised with news they are Legion of Youth Powered by Boeing winners

"This is an experience that's really going to empower our entire community."

December 19, 2019 in Our Community

How do you surprise 25 students with an experience they never even dreamed of?

That was the delicious dilemma Jesse Franklin, founder of the nonprofits Rainier Athletes, faced earlier this month. He learned his organization had been nominated by the community, and then selected by Boeing and the Seahawks, to be Legion of Youth Powered by Boeing recipients.

Rainier Athletes supports students who face barriers to accessing extracurricular opportunities like sports and tutoring that occurs outside of school. The organization works to affirm the students’ sense of purpose and belonging by engaging their core community of families, teachers, coaches and mentors to best support and motivate youth to achieve their greatest potential.

The exciting news was to be delivered by star Seahawks linebacker KJ Wright during a recent practice at the team’s training facility, so Franklin worked with the team to get the kids there without spilling the big news.

“It was going to be some sort of a field trip, something to do with the Seahawks,” Franklin explains with a grin. “But they really didn’t know what they were getting into.”

As the practice wrapped up, the players met the students and Wright delivered the stunning news that they had been selected to attend the upcoming Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings game. That news was followed with the delivery of swag bags that each included a pair of Air Force Ones sneakers in each student’s shoe size.

“I still can’t believe I’m here, I feel like it’s a dream,” said Derek Moreno, a Rainier Athlete who has transitioned from mentee to mentor. “I want to thank everyone that was involved in giving me this opportunity!”

“It’s going to be amazing,” said Rainier Athlete Ashley Lopez. “It’s amazing for me, because I’ve always wanted to go to a Seahawks game!”

In total, eight local organizations (list at bottom) received 2019 Seahawks home game tickets as part of this year’s Legion of Youth Powered by Boeing (LOY) program.

Started in 2014, the Legion of Youth Powered by Boeing program seeks to empower Washington youths by providing Seahawks game tickets to community organizations that serve kids throughout the Northwest. LOY provides 100 game tickets to each selected group or organization each regular season home game.

“This is an experience that’s really going to empower our entire community,” says Franklin. “It’s something that’s super exciting.”

2019 Legion of Youth Recipients:

  • Village Theater
  • Our Future Matters
  • Neobots (FIRST Washington)
  • WA Green Schools
  • National Guard Youth
  • Rainier Athletes
  • Sky Valley Youth Coalition
  • Mockingbird Society

Students from Rainier Athletes pose with Seahawks linebacker KJ Wright and a 12 flag.

Davis Wahlman photo