If only for a day, the rural community of Darrington, Wash. received a much-deserved return to normalcy.
It's been more than a week since a hillside gave way along state route 530, burying neighborhoods on the outskirts of Oso, Wash. and affecting countless others in the tight-knit neighboring Northern Cascade Mountain community of Darrington. As of Tuesday afternoon, 28 lives have been lost in the mudslide with 20 people still believed missing, for which tireless search efforts continue.
But on Monday afternoon, with the sun (an all-too-foreign object of late) glistening off the 6,852-foot snow-capped peak dubbed "Whitehorse" towering over town, the Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC offered Darrington a break from the devastation.
"I'll be your
"Did you see the smiles on those faces?" North Counties Family Services Board President Thomas Barkholz said of the support and encouragement the clubs showcased to the area youth.
"We haven't seen those all week," Barkholz' wife Karen quickly added. "There's been no reason to smile. We haven't had a reason to smile.
"We needed it," Karen continued. "We needed it terribly."
Kearse and Walters were joined by several more Seahawks and Sounders players and alum, team staff, the Sea Gals, and mascot Blitz, as the group entertained by signing autographs, posing for photos, participating in football and soccer drills and competitions, and serving dinner to more than 600 community members.
"I can't imagine what everyone here is going through," said the Seahawks' Walters, a 2006 graduate of Kirkland's Juanita High School. "I feel like to be able to give them any type of distraction is just big. And obviously, growing up in Washington it hits close to me, too.
"To be able to come out here and help out, it really means a lot."
The Seahawks and Sounders joint-effort came just two days after Sounders FC supporters raised more than $32,000 for the Red Cross disaster relief fund in a March 29 match at CenturyLink Field.
"It's all smiles," said Darrington High School Athletic Director Cory Ross. "It's all smiles, and that's all that matters."
Below, check out the best social media reaction to come from the Seahawks and Sounders FC's day in Darrington.
@Seahawks The county and community appreciate your support. So thank you :) Means the world to us.— Snohomish County (@snocounty) April 1, 2014
What an amazing and humbling experience being able to come to Darrington to show my support for all the families affected by the #530slide— Jermaine Kearse (@chopchop_15) April 1, 2014
Being able to see this community rally together in a time of struggle is truly inspiring! My prayers go out to all who have been affected— Jermaine Kearse (@chopchop_15) April 1, 2014
Very fortunate and honored to spend the day in Darrington! What an amazing community and prayers to everyone affected by the mudslide.— dylan remick (@dylanremick15) April 1, 2014
Just left the city of #Darrington.. Full of amazing people and so much spirit is there! Me and my team mates enjoyed you all— KJ (@KJ_WRIGHT34) April 1, 2014