As Suzanne Newman cared for her mother during the final six years of her life, she took note of the level of loneliness within the senior community, and through her research on different aspects of aging, she came to learn an alarming statistic.
Where they can document, which is in the retirement community and things like that, 60 percent of seniors that live in retirement communities or skilled care have no regular visitors," she said. "That's what they could document. They anticipate that seniors that live alone in their homes is far worse. And nobody was doing anything about it."
Newman, a lifelong Seahawks fan who shared her love for the game with her father, an original season ticket holder who passed in 2002, decided to take action. With online resources limited, Newman recognized the need for a support system families could turn to to handle the challenges of senior care. So Newman founded Answers for Elders, and knowing the holiday season could be particularly trying for seniors, she looked to the Seahawks to help take her support system even further.
"I wanted to find a way that we could do something," she said. "So that's when I contacted the Seahawks figuring that they do so much for the community and it was my hope we could harness the good part of the 12s and, at least in our community, make a difference."
What came out of her conversation with the club was a campaign called 12 Days of Goodness, which for the past five years — four of which have seen the Seahawks on board — has made visits to local senior centers and retirement communities for 12 days during the month of December. Joined by Seahawks alumni, including Sam Adkins, Jordan Babineaux, Edwin Bailey, Dennis Boyd, Paul Johns, Norm Johnson, Dave Krieg, Steve Raible, Paul Skansi, Manu Tuiasosopo, Dave Wyman and more, Newman and her 12 Days of Goodness crew have held roughly 30 events for seniors this month.
"It's just a time for us to get out in the community and meet people, and it's fun," Skansi, who got involved with 12 Days of Goodness last year, said a few days before Christmas during a visit to Edmonds Senior Center. "I think it's good for us and it's good for them to connect with Seahawks of the past and then to see the future out on T.V. right now. It's fun. I enjoy it and I try to do as much as I can for that."
In support of the Seattle-area senior community, Seahawks Legends took part in the '12 Days of Goodness' campaign this month, visiting retirement centers during the holiday season throughout the month of December.
Newman noted the seniors look forward to the experience all year and some centers have even 'adopted' Legends as their own, requesting visits from the same former Seahawks season after season as the two sides look to maintain a long-term relationship. The Legends, Newman added, seem to get as much out of each visit as the seniors do.
"We just talk about whatever they want to talk about," Skansi said of his interactions with the elders. "I'm open to that. I'm a local guy, so we talk about local things and places and remembering different times and different games and that type of thing. It's more just being there and just talking and being there for them during this time."
While several 12s have hopped on board with the 12 Days of Goodness campaign and joined Newman and Seahawks Legends during their visits, Newman hopes to attract even more fans to join the program, or at the very least, raise more awareness to combat loneliness in the senior community.
"The Legends set the example and we have these great events," she said. "But what I would really love to see is the 12s be more mindful of the seniors that they know. Whether if they live in their neighborhood or if they have family members that may even still be living at home, just to be mindful of who they are, the contributions that they've made to the world and to their own lives.
"With the millions of 12s that are around here, if 10 percent of them did something we wouldn't have a problem with senior loneliness."