Russell Wilson believes in miracles. He believes in them because he saw his father, Harrison, live three more years after doctors told his family he had hours to live. And Wilson believes in miracles because he saw a 19-year-old named Milton Wright beat cancer after he too was given a grim diagnosis. But Wilson also is fully aware that miracles like Wright's require a significant assist from modern medicine, which is why before Thursday's game against Dallas, Wilson was on the field to present a $1,060,005 donation from the Why Not You Foundation, the Kasey Kahne Foundation and Safeway to Seattle Children's Hospital's Strong Against Cancer Initiative.
Wilson and Kahne have teamed up for The DRIVE for the past three years, an annual event at Suncadia Resort that includes a golf tournament and auction, and with money raised there and at other events, as well as with Safeway running an in-store promotion for customer donations, they were able to cut a seven-figure check to help fund immunotherapy treatment at Seattle Children's Hospital, a form of treatment that has produced amazingly successful results.
"It was so cool," Wilson said. "The Why Not You Foundation, that's what we're all about—to empower one individual at a time, one kid at a time. And to be able to donate over a million dollars with Safeway and The DRIVE event, Kasey Kahne he's one of my buddies, just being able to donate over a million dollars for childhood cancer, and it's really working. We had The DRIVE up in Suncadia, a big celebrity golf tournament, we had a lot of fun up there, and I remember Dr. Mike Jensen (Director of the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute) who has really spearheaded everything, a great, great guy, very smart obviously. I remember him saying on stage that (T-cell treatment) has a 93 percent success rate.
"It's an amazing thing, 93 percent success rate out of (42) kids. That's just an amazing thing to be able to save kids' lives. We were able donate over $1 million, which really gives me the chills, because that's what life's really all about—us being able to give back and donate. God has given me a great opportunity to play the great game of football, but also he has given us all a great opportunity to share and give back. It's the real deal. I think about my kids one day, I think about other people's kids, and I don't want it to be my kids, I don't want it to be yours, so ultimately it's an opportunity to really save kids' lives, and it's really working, that's the coolest part."
During one of his regular Tuesday visit's to Seattle Children's, Wilson recently ran into Milton and had a brief moment of panic, fearing the now 21-year-old's cancer had come back. Instead, Milton was there as a perfect embodiment of the Why Not You Foundation’s goal to "empower change in the world, on individual at a time, one child at a time."
Previously a patient at Seattle Children's, Milton was now following in Wilson's footsteps, visiting patients and sharing his own story of beating cancer.
"He's trying to change kids' lives," Wilson said. "That's the real deal when you see that in person, when you see a guy who only had 12 hours left to live, and now he feels so strong and feels so great. Strong Against Cancer is the real deal, and we're going to do something big with that."
Two years earlier, Wilson was the one trying to give Milton the same type of hope Milton is now passing onto to young patients. Wilson told the story of how doctors once told Wilson's mom that his dad, who was in a coma, only had 12 to 18 hours left. Tammy Wilson held her husband's hand and sang to him, and soon he was moving his hands and feet, and not long after he was awake. Harrison Wilson would live three more years before eventually succumbing to complications from diabetes, three more years to live life, to watch his three children grow up and to watch Wilson play college football at N.C. State.
"I believe in miracles, I've seen it happen," Wilson said. "This T-cell therapy, Strong Against Cancer, it's really proven to help a lot of kids."
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As Russell Wilson signs his four-year contract extension with the Seahawks, take a look back at photos of the Seahawks quarterback participating in community and charity events in and around Seattle.