BELLEVUE, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks defensive end Tylor Harris was one of several speakers at the 12th Annual Celebration of Youth Luncheon held in front of a grand crowd at Hyatt Regency in downtown Bellevue on Wednesday afternoon.
Hosted by Friends of Youth, which provides several services for local youth and their families to "improve their emotional stability and self sufficiency," the event helped raise money to impact the lives of children in the community. The organization positively impacts over 5,500 youth and young adults between the ages of six and 24 and their families each year, operating facilities and programs at 21 sites in 18 cities across the Puget Sound region. Friends of Youth also offers youth development initiatives, in-home family support for young parents of newborns, parent education, youth and family counseling, substance abuse counseling and more.
The lunch was a special one for Harris, who has a unique connection with impacting the youth in the Pacific Northwest. During his speech, Harris recalled when he made a trip to Friends of Youth Griffin Home with teammates, which is located just down the street from the Seahawks practice facility.
"That was an interesting moment for me because moving up to Seattle, that was my first time really seeing how massive the homeless community is up here," Harris said. "And to know that children don't have homes, it sucks. It's not fair because they should and everybody deserves a fair chance growing up."
While playing basketball outside, Harris noticed one young man in particular — who he nicknamed "Carlos" during his speech— wasn't as involved as the other kids and wanted to change that. When he started talking to him, he discovered that Carlos only spoke Spanish and enjoyed rapping. It turned out to be the start of a great relationship because Harris has been speaking Spanish since fifth grade and raps as well. Carlos rapped in front of Harris about difficult things he was going through and later described why he came to the home in the first place.
"It wasn't that he was a bad kid, it was that he didn't want to be home because he felt like he was going to do something he shouldn't have done," Harris said. "That really touched me.
"Moving on from there, me and him just got really close. Apparently I really touched his heart and he's been doing really great since then. He's been on Cloud 9, he hasn't been violent, he hasn't been getting into any trouble. He's been an upstanding kid and that just astonished me when I got that email (saying) that just spending 10-20 minutes and sitting and talking … that changed him for the better."
Harris said he will definitely make another trip to the home and will continue to make a positive impact on more youth in the community.
Added Harris: "If any of us can affect a kid, why wouldn't we?"
Seahawks defensive end Tylor Harris was a guest speaker at the 12th Annual Celebration of Youth Luncheon in downtown Bellevue.