The raising of the 12 Flag at CenturyLink Field is one of the most special and unique traditions in football. In normal times, the raucous crowd of 68,000-plus would cheer and celebrate as a different prominent figure of the Seahawks, the city of Seattle or the Pacific Northwest as a whole hoisted the flag high above the field for all to see. Jody Allen, Kam Chancellor, Dave Matthews, and the 1979 NBA championship-winning Seattle SuperSonics are a few of the huge names asked to raise the flag over the past couple seasons.
While the sea of 12s still hasn't been able to make its return to CenturyLink due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 12 Flag raising tradition is still thriving. This year, it's taken on new meaning as we honor the heroes in our community who are helping make a big difference during these challenging and unprecedented times. Our flag raisers this year are people who have made great sacrifices in their personal lives — spending more time at work, more time away from their families, more time thinking about others before themselves — in order to better the lives of those in need.
In week 2, Dr. Eliot Fagley, director of critical care at Virginia Mason Hospital, raised the 12 Flag on behalf of Virginia Mason’s COVID-19 response team ahead of our victory against the Dallas Cowboys. Lincoln High School head football coach Masaki Matsumoto and the Lincoln football team were chosen to raise the flag in week three for their commitment to the community, volunteering twice a week at the Tacoma Rescue Mission in lieu of their canceled fall season.
For Week 5, the Seahawks are honoring the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) in Seattle's Central District as the 12 Flag raiser. The clinic was founded by Odessa Brown in 1970 with the goal of bringing quality, dignified healthcare to Black children and families in the Central District. Today, it has capitalized on that goal, offering medical, dental, and mental health services to families living in low-income areas of south Seattle and King County and serving nearly 15,000 children each year.
Beyond medical needs, though, OBCC offers comprehensive care by striving to improve the home lives of its patients. They routinely make house calls to make sure families have basic needs, and even use legal aid to help ensure that local landlords are keeping safe housing for patients. OBCC also runs health clinics in three local schools and a daycare.
"This clinic was founded by the community, and we are a direct response because of the community," Antwanette Lyons, Manager of OBCC's Community Health Advocacy and Programs, said in an interview Tuesday. "We would be remiss if we did not honor that legacy of being a community-based clinic. Community-based means that we are part of a community, we strive to be a part of conversations, to be a part of the movements that are happening. And that happens through relationships."
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting low-income families in a myriad of ways, OBCC found even more ways to assist its community this year. Back in March, at the onset of the pandemic, Seahawks legend Cliff Avril partnered with OBCC and Safeway to provide food, cleaning supplies, and other various resources for families who had been impacted by COVID-19. Avril has long been associated with OBCC, dating back to the start of his Cliff Avril Family Foundation in 2014 — OBCC is a recipient of funding from the foundation.
"I love everything about Odessa Brown," Avril said of the partnership in August. "During COVID, they've done a wide range of things, and that's another reason why I think it was important for us to partner up. They're not just a normal clinic, they do a wide range of things for their families, like during COVID – emergency relief, rent relief, food, supplies, appliances and utility support for a lot of families.
"Nothing's better than being able to give back to those in need, those that are going through hard times and aren't as fortunate as you in those particular moments."
"Our clinic doors never closed," Lyons said. "When COVID hit, our providers, our teams, we were right here with the doors open, ready to support and to see the families who needed us the most at that time.
"Everything changed when COVID struck, and what we found is that because we have such a strong relationship with our families, because we have such a strong relationship with our community, we were able to meet the needs that our families presented with."
On Tuesday, Avril attended an honorary flag raising at the clinic on Yesler Way where Dr. Benjamin Danielson, Senior Medical Director of the clinic, raised the flag. Before this Sunday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings, Seahawks mascot Blitz will raise the flag on the clinic's behalf.
"When you are the energy of raising the flag — when you see that flag going up, you know what's about to happen," Lyons said. "There's so much, the vibration. And even though we're at home now, it's still there.
"For Odessa Brown to be a part of that, I can not wait. I'm thrilled."
The Odessa Brown Children's Clinic was selected as the honorary 12 Flag raiser for Week 5 vs. the Minnesota Vikings.