It was a meeting of the mascots.
Blitz, the Seattle Seahawks’ beloved blue and green hawk, stood in the lobby of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Friday evening with his arm slung around Max Hanson, a senior at Seattle Preparatory School. Hanson describes himself as “a big football nerd,” and represents Seattle Prep as its Panther mascot.
But this meeting wasn’t about sports — it was about bringing joy, celebration and a dash of silliness and magic in the form of a big blue bird to children with brain cancer.
Hanson is one of them. A decade ago, when he was an 8-year-old athletic boy, he suddenly developed searing headaches, which prompted his parents to take him for a CT scan. Hanson remembers watching his father pace back and forth in the hospital lobby as the family waited for the results. When they came, “the floor dropped out from under us,” remembered his mother, Erin Cordry. Hanson had a medulloblastoma, an aggressive, cancerous brain tumor.
“We tried to grasp at any hope,” Cordry said.
Hanson underwent a surgery that required him to have to relearn how to walk, and began treatment on a protocol developed by Dr. Jim Olson, a researcher at the Hutch and a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children’s.
“His research is what we believe saved Max’s life,” Cordry said.
Today, rather than being the sick boy he once was, Max is healthy enough to row crew — and cheer on his high school’s teams as the mascot. He’s inspired by Blitz, who he described as “being so cool.”
That’s exactly why, just days before the Seahawks hosted the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, Blitz took time out of his packed schedule to come to the Hutch and visit with a group of kids who’ve grappled with a stark diagnosis.
“Blitz has an approachability with kids,” said Ryan Asdourian, who called himself Blitz’ “handler” and, some might say, knows Blitz from the inside out. “A big joy for him is to get to bring a smile to their face.”