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Spencer Anderson & Rachel Henley: A double dose of smiles

Posted Dec 21, 2012

Cancer patients Spencer Anderson and Rachel Henley visited the Seahawks on Friday, one as part of the Make-A-Wish program and the other through the spearhead efforts of rookie defensive tackle Greg Scruggs.


And the first question at Pete Carroll’s post-practice news conference on Friday was asked by …

Spencer Anderson, a 17-year old from Richland who has been battling lymphoma the past two years. Anderson and his family spent the day at Virginia Mason Athletic Center as part of the Make-A-Wish program. His wish and aspiration was and is to be a broadcaster.

And before Carroll stepped to the podium in the indoor practice facility to field Anderson’s question after the Seahawks’ final full practice before Sunday night’s game against the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field, he stopped to talk with and have his picture taken with Rachel Henley, 19 and a student at Pacific Lutheran University.

Henley was a Make-A-Wish recipient when she was 15. She was given a trip to Germany to see her brother who was stationed there in the Air Force. Friday’s visit to the Seahawks was part of a grassroots Twitter campaign launched by her friends and received by many Seahawks players.

Anderson’s wish was rooted in his love of the Seahawks and his aspirations to take his broadcasting career from football and basketball games at Hanford High School to the next level.

“I’ve been a Seahawks fan for years,” he said. “I knew from the beginning what I would want to do with my wish, and that would be in a broadcasting booth at a Seahawks game.”

During practice, Anderson and his family were escorted by Seahawks.com’s Tony Ventrella, who worked at four TV stations in Seattle before joining the team’s website. Anderson also got to meet Al Michaels, who is in town for NBC’s coverage of Sunday night’s game.

“That was one thing I was really hoping would happen,” Anderson said of his encounter with Michaels. “I was excited when the game was flexed to the NBC primetime game because I knew Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth and Bob Costas would be around.

“But to be able to actually meet (Michaels) and shake his hand and spend some time with him, that was so far the highlight of the day. He’s a sportscaster I really look up to.”

After practice, Anderson interviewed Russell Wilson in the locker room. “He is a pro,” Wilson said after the Q&A session.

Offered Anderson, “That was great. This has been great.”

Henley, meanwhile, began a Twitter effort to be adopted by the Seahawks after seeing a story about the Oklahoma City Thunder adopting a cancer patient.

“I just tweeted, ‘I wish the Seahawks would take me in,’ ” she said. “Then my friends started this hash tag on Twitter (#SeahawksMeetRachel) and it started trending. It just turned into this whole thing and I was really surprised by it.

“It’s awesome.”

Rookie defensive tackle Greg Scruggs caught wind of her effort early in the process and gave it wings.

“It came across me on Twitter. I saw it hadn’t gotten much response. I’m in a position to do something about it, so I just took it upon myself to try and do my best to see to it that it happened,” Scruggs said.

“She really enjoyed herself, and I’m glad she did. I know she’s going through a hard time.”

When Scruggs visited Henley at her home, she was starting her second round of chemotherapy.

“That’s a rough time,” Scruggs said. “So this was just something to make her forget about it. I don’t think while she was here she knows that she has cancer. That’s the ultimate goal. And Sunday it will be the same thing.”  

That’s right, neither is done just yet. Anderson will attend Sunday night’s game, where he’ll visit the radio broadcast booth and meet play-by-play man Steve Raible and analyst Warren Moon. Henley also will there, with sideline passes before the game and seats during the game for her and her family.

“This has been amazing,” Henley said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”