Ben’s first word was “ball,” and he’s loved sports since childhood. But Ben’s sports days were put on hold the day after Thanksgiving when Ben was just two-and-a-half years old.
“We thought Ben had a really bad virus,” said Ben’s mom, Jennie. “We went to the doctor … and the next day he started chemotherapy.”
Doctors diagnosed Ben with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For the first month of treatment, Ben swelled up from steroids, couldn’t walk, and had trouble getting medication down. Finally, he went home where he learned to walk again.
But for the next eight months, Ben had limited contact with other kids and public places. The chemotherapy made him more susceptible to germs and infections, so he could no longer do the things he once loved – playing catch and football.
After those first, difficult months, Ben started a regimen of pills, chemo and steroids that would last three years. He experienced mood swings and was very uncomfortable.
It was during this time that Ben found out he qualified for a wish.
So he chose to meet the people he looks up to most: the Seattle Seahawks.
Ben’s wish started early in the morning with a limo ride to the VMAC. There, he met mascot Blitz and watched the team practice. He visited the locker room where he had his own locker between Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin and took photos with the players. Coach Pete Carroll even got out the whistle and ran lines with Ben and his brother, Sam.
Ben’s wish didn’t end there. The following week, his entire family set out for Century Link Field. Just before kickoff, Ben and Sam ran out the game ball and tee in front of a crowd of cheering fans.
“That, as a mom, was the highlight,” said Jennie. “Everybody in the stadium was cheering. It brought tears to my eyes because my boys felt so important.”
Now, Ben has even more appreciation for the game. He pays more attention to the players’ stats and loves to tell friends and family about the time he met the Seahawks. But most importantly, he now associates the team with helping kids. On his wish, Ben witnessed so much teamwork, and knows you have to work to be good at something.
“Ben’s wish pierced through all of the isolation that childhood cancer can bring to a family, and replaced it with voluntary love,” said Jennie. “Ben is not just a Seahawks fan … he IS a Seahawk, for life!”
Special thanks: Seattle Seahawks, wish-granting volunteers John Murdoch and Collette Meyer