The sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in our armed forces are many and often grave. Their courage and heroism can’t be overstated. And while honoring their service is an important and ongoing responsibility for us all, another group of heroes often remains overlooked: the children of military families. Growing up in a military family can be very stressful. On average, they’re assigned to a new installation every two to three years. Most of us take the concept of ‘home’ for granted, but for many of these kids the very word is ambiguous – if not downright foreign. And of course there is the constant stress of deployment and the terrible fears and realities it can bring.
Having grown up on a military base right here in the Northwest, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse understands these kids. Last year he started the 15 to 1: Jermaine Kearse Foundation to provide support, guidance, and a sense of community to children of military families, and has since earned a nomination for the fifth annual “Salute to Service Award” presented by USAA.
I am thrilled and honored to be a member of the 15 to 1: Jermaine Kearse Foundation board and to call Jermaine a friend. It’s extremely gratifying as a huge fan of a fantastic football player to find him just as dedicated, humble and generous off the field as he is on. Two weeks ago my wife and I accompanied Jermaine to Olympia to meet 20 Gold Star families who have lost members in the line of duty. It was truly remarkable to see the faces of kids who have endured unimaginable loss light up when they met one of their heroes. But Jermaine wasn’t just there to sign autographs. He was there to introduce them to Governor Inslee and state lawmakers, who, under the direction of the 15 to 1: Jermaine Kearse Foundation, introduced a House Resolution recognizing the sacrifices endured by military families and the Foundation’s commitment to them. He was there to show them they weren’t alone. He was there because he has their backs. It was a day I won’t forget.
Ongoing commitment to community involvement was a founding principle of The Fearey Group and is central to our mission to this day. After becoming President and CEO, it became my responsibility to choose how the agency gives back, and I decided to prioritize finding ways to help children in need. As a father of three, I am passionate about reaching out to kids for whom life has presented difficult circumstances and tough odds. My personal love of sports has brought me to the table at organizations like the Lenny Wilkens Foundation and now the 15 to 1: Jermaine Kearse Foundation. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of these fantastic organizations in which sports role models can leverage their influence to make real positive change long after the game ends.
On March 9, Jermaine Kearse will become an unrestricted free agent. He’s a great player who’s paid his dues and deserves to take his future into his own extremely capable hands. I’m really hoping he stays with the Seattle Seahawks, but it’s great to know that no matter where he goes, he’ll bring along his outstanding character and commitment to helping kids who really need a solid teammate.