This season, the raisers of the 12 Flag have been people who have worked hard to make a difference in their communities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
From Dr. Eliot Fagley, Viriginia Mason Cadiothoracic Anesthesiologist and Intensivist, and the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, to first responders who battled devastating wildfires in our state during the summer and the Washington Army National Guard COVID Task Force who were on the frontlines giving support through food banks and testing sites — among others — these people all sacrificed their time to improve the lives of others under extremely challenging circumstances.
They're also all dedicated Seahawks fans, and that's who we are choosing to honor with the 12 Flag raising this week. For Week 16, 12 different fans from around the world were selected as the honorary 12 Flag raisers from all around the world who have continually supported the team even during the pandemic.
Many of these international fans are part of a fan group known as the Sea Hawkers. Sea Hawkers' mission is "to support the Seattle Seahawks organization, players and families, fans and communities" through volunteerism, according to its website. The club raises awareness and funds for various charities, and has chapters located throughout Washington, the United States, and around the globe in places like Germany, Canada, Latin America and more.
Simon Kell is a long-time member of the German Sea Hawkers chapter, which was established in December 2014. Kell helped organize the chapter's regional group in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state in Germany, which has grown significantly and has become one of the Sea Hawkers' most active communities.
For the last two years, Kell has served as the chapter's treasurer and has had a tremendous impact by initiating and organizing fundraisers that have raised several thousand Euros for charity.
Lynne Jarrett is VP At-Large of the Canadian Sea Hawkers chapter in Vancouver. Jarrett served as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer for 30 years, retiring in 2013. In 2004, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Despite its challenges, it's something that has driven her work with the chapter.
"As a person living with MS, it has been important to me to help the Canadian Sea Hawkers Chapter support the MS Society of BC/Yukon and Canada throughout the year," Jarrett said. "We have raised funds through the Annual MS Walk, 50/50 raffle tickets at our weekly viewing parties and holding an annual Stomp MS Fundraiser."
Through selling raffle tickets at Vancouver Whitecaps games, Jarrett has raised over $5,600 in support of BC Children's Hospital, and over $38,000 in support of the Canucks For Kids Foundation by selling raffle tickets at Vancouver Canucks games. Jarrett has also volunteered with the Metro Vancouver Dream Centre and Sage Food Bank to help serve meals to the homeless and disadvantaged.
Yolanda Morgan is the president of the Executive Board for Sea Hawkers here in Seattle. She began serving as the secretary of the Central Council's board after getting involved in May of 2017.
"As I got to learn more about the processes of the Sea Hawkers and what the team's mission was all about, I saw a need and a desire to start tracking any charitable activity that any of our chapters were doing," Morgan said. "The first year I started collecting data, I reported raising over $154,000 and our members had contributed 5,976 volunteer hours. In 2018, I reported over $271,000 raised and 9,023 volunteer hours. In 2019, we hit a record high of over $1.3 million dollars and over 13,000 volunteer hours.
"And not all chapters had submitted all their charitable activity. Can you imagine what the numbers would look like if they had?"
Morgan is the only child of Filipino immigrant parents who made Seattle their home in the early 1960s. Her earliest memories as a Seahawks fan include watching the team in their inaugural season in 1976.
"Ironically enough I had just turned 12 when their first season started, my birthday is Sept. 4," Morgan said. "I was somewhat of a tomboy with my father having no sons to share his love for all sports with and so I would watch the games with him from the comforts of our home. We didn't have that much money growing up, so we didn't go to the games but we sure made the most of the times we watched the Seahawks from our couch at home. I think neighbors thought someone was killing me every time the Seahawks would score during a game because my screams went beyond our walls, and they still do."
Upon becoming board president, Morgan reflected on what she wanted to accomplish during her two-year term. One priority was to take the organization to the "next level" by applying for 501(c)(3) certification, which the group received this spring. "This now opens up many opportunities, not just for the executive board but for our chapters," Morgan said.
While the pandemic has forced Sea Hawkers to put many of their annual and weekly events on hold, the club has persevered and found other ways to come together. The UK Sea Hawkers chapter celebrated its 15th anniversary this June, and the Sea Hawkers were planning on sending Buckingham Palace guard uniforms to the Seahawks for them to wear in a video congratulating the UK chapter on its milestone year.
"We weren't able to do that, but with the help of [Seahawks VP of Community Outreach] Mike Flood, we were able to arrange to meet with the UK board members at a decent hour and have Jim Zorn make an appearance and congratulate them," Morgan said. "It was his daughter's wedding day, too — we were very thankful for him taking the time out to spend it with us."
Another challenge the local Sea Hawkers club has dealt with this year was the sudden death of VP Liaison Candy Johns. "Candy and I worked very closely together on the board having the same goal in mind when it came to the Sea Hawkers organization. Losing her unexpectedly absolutely devastated me and our members," Morgan said. "She and I would speak to one another many times during the course of our week and so I miss our times together on the phone. I would give anything to have her back. She was a woman who had a heart of gold but wouldn't take any guff from anybody."
When Morgan raised the 12 Flag at Lumen Field on December 17, she couldn't help but feel like Candy was making her presence felt.
"Now mind you, it was pouring down rain the day before on Wednesday and Friday, the day after. But on Thursday around the time that I was scheduled to be down at the stadium, the clouds parted and there was blue sky and no wind," Morgan said. "Elise Jones, VP- of Entertainment and Alena Edin, VP of Membership were my guests and essential individuals that sat on the steering committee. I had turned to them and said, 'I can't help but think Candy had something to do with this beautiful weather we have today.' As Alena said, 'She is shining down on you.'"
Sea Hawkers from around the globe had the opportunity to raise the 12 Flag in their respective hometowns as well, showing the strength of 12s worldwide. Those include the aforementioned Simon Kell and Lynne Jarrett, Steve Sullivan in the UK, Philippe Agat in France, Roger Abanto in Peru, Sterling Compton in Hawaii, Jason Ranchoux in Canada, Heriberto Franco in Mexico, Shirley Schonenbach in Alaska, CW4 Kent Frye at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Lacey, WA. and veteran/police officer Shaun Minks in Port Angeles, WA.
"This act of raising the 12 Flag brings so much emotion," Morgan said. "It is a testimony to the work that I've put in and allowed my chapter reps to put in to achieve unification. I share this honor with my executive board and the steering committee who I charged to finding ways to uniting all of the chapters – and they did.
"I am not a celebrity, nor am I an athlete, nor am I a prominent Seattle figure – who I am is a proud Filipino American, born and raised in Seattle, who has had the opportunity to sit as an officer on the Sea Hawker board, who loves her team, her community and is committed and dedicated to continuing the work of our organization."
To celebrate the strength of the 12s worldwide, 12 fans from across the globe were selected to raise a 12 Flag in their hometowns prior to Week 16 vs. the Rams.