The girl who raised the 12th Man flag and lifted a community
On the final Blue Friday of what would become a championship weekend for the Seattle Seahawks, the 12th Man flag needed to be raised on the campus of MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Wash.
The flag represents the people who provide an extra boost of support for those who face adversity. With strength in numbers, the 12th Man can influence the outcome. Change the game.
On that Friday under a brisk rain, employees from many MultiCare departments banded together around the flag pole in the plaza on the campus of MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Some wore Seahawks scrubs or jerseys as they waved signs and chanted. But they saved their biggest cheers for a 13-year-old girl.
Hanna Safley, an oncology patient at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, had been chosen to raise the 12th Man flag.
“Eleven days ago we were given the most difficult news of our life to hear and to accept,” said Hanna’s mother, Kelly Safley. “Our 13-year-old precious daughter was diagnosed with ALL -- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.”
“We were shocked and scared in a way I never dreamt of feeling,” added Hanna’s father, Vance.
On that Friday morning, after completing a round of chemotherapy, Hanna left the recovery room and headed outside.
“I like the Seahawks because they’re our team,” said Hanna, who lives in Edgewood. “But I’m not as crazy as my dad.”
Hanna doesn’t like attention, but she found the strength to face a crowd of fans.
“When we exited the hospital and started crossing the street toward the flag, the crowd started cheering for Hanna,” Vance said. “I could hardly hold back my emotions. When we were told of her diagnosis, I told my wife that I felt there was a world of people out there who would in some way help our daughter. This event helped confirm my feelings.”
With the flag ready to go up, Hanna grabbed the rope. She pulled. The flag rose.
The 12th Man roared.
“The team they have put together is so very caring and talented,” Vance said. “Once we were admitted to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center and under their direct care we felt everything would be OK.”
“From the minute we walked in the door of the ER, we have been completely blessed with the most amazing, brilliant and compassionate people I have ever met in one place,” Kelly said. “They know everything that we will need to move one step at a time through this journey.
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