On November 18th, 2008, Quest Field was flooded with 650 cheering and smiling students from 17 Puget Sound area schools to celebrate and enjoy the 14th Annual First & Goal luncheon, hosted by Communities In Schools and co-sponsored by Costco, Subway and the Seahawks. The First & Goal program is a goal setting program, where students at the beginning of the school year set personal or academic improvement goals and work to achieve those goals over a 6-8 week period. Each student who achieves his or her goal gets the opportunity to come to Quest Field and celebrate their success with Seattle Seahawks players and enjoy other activities.
“My goal is to have 3 A’s in math, reading and science. I pass my goal.” Axsaulis, McCarver Elementary
“My goal is to do all my homework. I did pretty good. I’ve been turning in every single piece of my homework.” Callie, Fern Hill Elementary
For many students, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. “Oh, just to see these kids’ face when they walk through the door here, you wouldn’t believe. Most of them say ‘Wow!’ you know, they’re just floored. They’ve never been to Quest Field before and to work so hard on a goal and to reach it and come and celebrate with us is just a joy,” says Teresa Maxwell, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Tacoma
The day of celebration began with school buses of eager students lining up outside Quest Field. As each group of students arrived, they were allowed out onto the field where they had their pictures taken right on the 40 yard line. Inside, students practiced their football skills with blow-up football games, met and got autographs from a couple of Seagals, and got the chance to run around with Blitz, the Seahawks very own mascot.
The festivities really kicked off with the Subway Sandwich Build competition and the introduction of seven Seahawk players: Howard Green, Ray Willis, Sean Locklear, Michael Bumpus, TJ Duckett, DeMichael Dizer, and Ben Obomanu. The seven players were split into two teams with each team matched with six lucky students who would compete to build a six foot long Subway Sandwich as quickly as possible. After a few short minutes of flying turkey and lettuce, team two won the challenge!
Students then listened to Seahawk player #87, Ben Obomanu, tell his own story about facing and overcoming challenges to reach success, and congratulated the students on their achievements. Ben Obomanu understood not only the importance of setting and reaching goals, but also the importance of community support and programs like First & Goal. “Not only do they have the parents, the teachers, and the instructors in schools as support. But to also know that they have the support of the Seahawks and the people in their communities who care about their well-being and care about them going off and being successful in life is important. So I think that the just extra motivation to help them to come back, to want to come back to an event like this next year, to encourage other students and classmates to be successful and accomplish their goals, I think the extra motivation is going to go a long way for a lot of kids,” said Ben Obomanu.
Students also enjoyed a free lunch and watched as seven students were individually recognized for reaching their goals with the prize of a mini Seahawks helmet. After lunch, the event closed with every student receiving a goody bag full of donated gifts from Costco and a coupon for a free Subway sandwich. As the students lined up to leave, they each got the opportunity to meet a Seahawk player and receive an autograph on a Seahawk program.
The day was a complete success as evidenced by the smiles and cheers of the students as they climbed into the buses that would take them home. The event not only celebrated each student’s success, but also reaffirmed the importance of goal setting and community support. “We want to share the importance of goal setting with the students,” said Mike Flood, Seahawks Vice President. “The First and Goal program provides a structure where the students develop, track, attain and receive positive recognition for their goals.” It is through the continuation of programs like First & Goal, and exciting days like the First & Goal Luncheon, that will help children be successful in school and in life.