When Russell Wilson first arrived in Seattle as a rookie, he made a phone call to Seattle Children's Hospital asking if he might pay a visit to the children there.
The response on the other end of the line?
"'Who is this?'" Wilson was asked six years ago, he recalled with a laugh while on Sports Radio 950 KJR Monday. "I said, 'My name's Russell, I just got drafted, I just got here, and I want to be able to come to Seattle Children's on Tuesday."
After his visit, Wilson told the same person he had talked to on the phone, "I really want to come back next Tuesday and really every Tuesday if I can. She looks at me and goes, 'Uh, I don't even know if that's allowed.' Sure enough, it's been something that has been so special for Ciara and I to see so many amazing kids and to be able to be a glimpse of hope and belief."
Since that first visit six years ago, Seattle Children's has been a special place for Wilson, who visits every Tuesday throughout the season and frequently in the offseason as well when he is in the area.
"Really for us, it's about impacting these kids' lives and giving them a chance to believe," Wilson said.
Wilson was on Sports Radio 950 KJR as part of the station's 22nd annual KJR Kares A Thon, which benefits Strong Against Cancer immunotherapy research at Seattle Children's. In addition to being regular visitors at Seattle Children's, Wilson and Ciara's nonprofit, the Why Not You Foundation, partners with Strong Against Cancer to help fight childhood cancer. This week, Wilson is hosting his annual Russell Wilson Celebrity Invitational golf tournament. Last year, the celebrity invitational, combined with donations made by customers at area Safeway and Albertsons stores, raised more than $1.6 million for Strong Against Cancer.
"At the end of the day, it's really about the kids, so Ciara and I are in love with the fact that we get to do this," Wilson said. "It has been an amazing experience, we've been able to donate millions of dollars to it, it has been great. Another great way for people to get involved is just going by your local Safeway or Albertsons. You can purchase something that has the Strong Against Cancer sign, or just click yes to donate at the checkout line."
The money raised this week will help fund the groundbreaking immunotherapy treatment being done at Seattle Children's and other hospitals around the country. According to the Strong Against Cancer website, 93 percent of patients achieved complete remission in a clinical trial using genetically reprogrammed T cells to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
"It has been groundbreaking, and we're helping save kids' lives, so every time somebody gets to donate, or even just wave to say hi to a kid, that's what makes a difference," Wilson said. "The reality is, you never know if it's going to be my kids, if it's going to be your kids, if it's going to be your best friend's kids, that's why it's so important, so imperative we make a difference. And the results are showing, the results are truly showing. That's what we're looking for."
Wilson also touched on his and Ciara's recent trip to London, which among other things included a visit to one of Europe's biggest horse races, as well as a tour of Tottenham's new stadium where the Seahawks will play the Raiders this season.
"We had a good time," he said. "It was the Royal Ascot, kind of like the Kentucky Derby of Europe. It was an amazing experience just to be able to dress up and have fun, but also some business going on."
On seeing the stadium, which is still under construction, Wilson said, "I got to walk the whole entire stadium, where our lockers will be, I got to get on the field, they just laid down the NFL turf there. … You know me I like visualizing success, so that was a big part of it. It was great."
Wilson also was asked about the team's offseason workouts, which wrapped up earlier this month with a three-day minicamp, and he said he came away encouraged by what he has seen this offseason.
"It's part of the process," Wilson said. "You enjoy the process, you respect the process, you grind through the process. We're looking forward to playing again. At the end of the day, you can dictate the game with how you prepare. I've always said, the separation is in the preparation, that's how we're going to prepare. We're going to prepare at the highest level. We've got a bunch of guys who know how to do that, we have a bunch of coaches who know how to do that, and that's what it takes. It takes what it takes to win, that's the truth. We're looking forward to it. We're going to have a great season. We're going to have a great offseason, a great training camp, then take it into the season and make something happen. We're excited about that opportunity. We've got a lot of great players, all across the board on offense from left to right, on defense from left to right, and special teams as well, so it's going to be an exciting year. Seahawks fans, get ready."
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hosted a celebrity golf tournament at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Washington on Tuesday, June 27 to benefit Strong Against Cancer, an effort that makes cancer immunotherapy treatment a reality for youth.