They’re loud. They’re proud and they support a franchise that has transformed itself into one of the top organizations in the NFL. One thing is certain, the 12th Man isn’t just a west side thing, it’s universal and the Seahawks organization proved they have all the right stuff or in this case all the K.J. Wright stuff. The 6-foot-4, 250 pound Seattle linebacker was met with all the love and excitement Moses Lake could muster Saturday morning when he arrived to sign autographs to help raise money for the Moses Lake Medical Team.
The line started forming at the door to the former DollarUP on Balsam Street at midnight when Raymond Martinez, Anthony Brown and David Avalos settled in for the night, ensuring they would be the first to meet the Seahawk linebacker, who was the 99th overall pick of the 2011 draft.
“We didn’t sleep at all,” said Brown, wearing a No. 24 Marshawn Lynch jersey and florescent green Seahawks knit cap. “We just wanted to make sure we were first in line.”
By mid-morning the line stretched from Balsam all the way down the block to Chestnut Street, the 12th Man in Moses Lake out in full force.
“Having K.J. Wright come here is an inspiration to everybody, especially Seahawk fans,” said Dillen Fridell, who’s a mechanic at Lamb-Weston. “To see where the Seahawks have come from to where they are now. They turned it around, and when you can turn around something that’s been so broken for so long, it’s an inspiration to everybody that they can do the same thing. Not just with football, but with everything. The organization gives back. K.J reached out to the Moses Lake Medical Team. He does it, everybody on the team does it and it’s important to us as fans.”
As Wright rolled up with event coordinator Lateff Olaniyan, he took a moment to poke his head around the corner, only to be met by the rising excitement from the Moses Lake fan base. He shook a few hands, then pulled out his phone to catch a bit of video from the Columbia Basin.
“I enjoy this. I met Lateff at the airport and listened to what he and his team does. I wanted to be a part of it,” said Wright. “I’ve been to a lot of stadiums in my NFL career and nothing compares to the energy that Seahawks fans bring. We appreciate that they’re extremely loyal fans.”
Wright signed anything from footballs to T-shirts. There were 12th man flags, photos of him making a play. He signed cellphone cases and whatever anybody shoved in front of him. One fan even wheeled in a Seahawk designed fire hydrant on a portable dolly. When the staff photographer set up the family shot with Wright, the fan said. “Hey can you get the hydrant in the shot?”
Maybe one of the most impressive displays came as Wright entered the building and began to meet members of the Moses Lake Medical team, along with police and firefighters. He immediately gravitated toward Sal Valdez sitting in a wheelchair patiently waiting in the lobby. Valdez’s Seahawk green sweatshirt and blue sweats were a clear indicator of his team pride. He might not have been able to vocalize the pleasure meeting the Seahawk linebacker, but the smile that crept to his face was as loud as any meter at CenturyLink Field.
Nine-year-old Isaiah Cedillo settled a Seahawks helmet on the table in front of Wright with a certain awe. Some of that timidness melted when Wright smiled and reached out his hand. The Garden Heights Elementary School student’s hand was engulfed in the larger man’s, sort of like shaking hands with a catcher’s mitt. The exchange would last a lifetime for a boy who stood in line since 5 a.m. that morning.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen a pro football player,” Cedillo said. “He’s so big.”
The Moses Lake 12th Man was out in force and K.J. Wright proved the Seahawks have all the right stuff.
News culled from www.columbiabasinherald.com/