Miss A Columnist

As a 4-year Leukemia survivor, Stacey Mertes is heavily involved in fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the American Diabetes Association. Her 7-year-old son, Logan, is a recently diagnosed Type 1 diabetic, but keeps Stacey on her toes with his own active fundraising endeavors such as the Columbia Tower climb (for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society), WaMu stair climb (for Cystic Fibrosis), and several triathlons and other stair climbs around the city. Originally from a suburb of Chicago, Stacey has lived in many of the local neighborhoods (including spending 11 years next to the Pike Place Market), since graduating from the University of Washington. She finally settled down in the most diverse zip code in the country, Columbia City, where she enjoys walks to the many restaurants, farmers market, and art events nearby. Her favorite hobby of late is finding the most fun “free” things to do around Seattle with her son. She loves movies, plays, visiting the Pacific Science Center and other museums, and finding those geocaching adventures.

RECAP: Seahawk Doug Baldwin, Jr. Speaks at ICAN Project Father/Sons Symposium

Ron and son, Joshua, enjoy a picture after the symposium with Gee Scott (left), Doug Baldwin, Jr. (center), and Rob Sims (right). (Photo credit: Eighty8images)

Ron and son, Joshua, enjoy a picture after the symposium with Gee Scott (left), Doug Baldwin, Jr. (center), and Rob Sims (right). (Photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

Father and sons, donned in their favorite Seahawk jerseys (#89 prominent) with Will Smith’s Just the Two of Us (a song honoring the father/son relationship) playing by a live disc jockey (Mobile Celebrations), waited anxiously for the start of this intimate ICAN Project first annual father/sons symposium at the Cedarbrook Lodge on Father’s Day 2015. For the kickoff event of the ICAN Project foundation, they had heavy-hitter speakers, Seahawk Superbowl champion wide receiver, Doug Baldwin, Jr., and former Seahawk and Detroit Lions, Rob Sims.

Gee Scott passionate about the father and son relationship (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

Gee Scott passionate about the father and son relationship (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

Gee Scott, sports radio host of the Justin and Gee Show on 710ESPN, started the ICAN Project with a vision to make a difference amongst the youth of today. His rise from car detailer/driver of the Seattle Seahawks to radio host and auctioneer, allows him, as a father himself, to give back to the community knowing how important the success of our youth determines the fate of our country and our world.  He starts with a Father’s Day event because he understands the importance of the father figure in the growth and success of a child.

The afternoon event began with Gee having each person father/child combo introduce themselves. One father and pee wee coach, Ron, has four sons and one daughter, but only brought his son, Joshua, to this event to be able to have quality time with him. Ron makes sure he takes time for each child and spend one-on-one, quality time with each one of them. Some father’s stated they grew up without fathers so they were there because they know the importance of the father/son bond.

Rob Sims, former Seattle Seahawk and Detroit Lion, says, "God has a plan" (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

Rob Sims, former Seattle Seahawk and Detroit Lion, says, “God has a plan” (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

Rob Sims, former guard for the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks and now a free agent, started out the speeches with a touching story about his father and how supportive he was. His father’s sage advice was always, “God has a plan for you.” When his father died, Sims changed his motivation from making the team to “making my dad proud.” When he lost a $36 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks, he remembered his father’s advice that God has a plan for him. He soon worked even harder knowing there was a bigger plan for him. He and his wife, and two small children, made a fantastic life in Detroit, making a difference in the community and getting a contract with the Detroit Lions. He said that one of the benefits of his life in the NFL was that he was “able to fix some of his father’s mistakes, make some of his own, and learn from them all.”

Doug Baldwin, Sr. talks about the importance of fatherhood (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

Doug Baldwin, Sr. talks about the importance of fatherhood (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

The next speaker was Doug Baldwin, Sr. who spoke eloquently about the joy of having a son and how it’s the rebirth of yourself. “You’re able to watch yourself as a young man, but able to influence it.” Using the acronym ASNF, he reminds the father’s in the room that “a son never forgets,” so be aware of what you do in front of your son and how you spend your time with him. As a police officer for 35 years, he left the audience with a note about the importance of teaching your kids in this day and age the importance of having respect and understanding of police officers. “Just like you can’t paint every doctor, lawyer, football player with the same brush, you can’t paint the a police officer the same way…you have to judge the individual…we must teach our kids to be open-minded about police officers.” Several fathers in the room appreciated that message. What’s your proudest moment of your son, Doug Baldwin, Jr.? “There are so many proud moments, but to be accepted into one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, Stanford, was certainly one of the highlights.”

Gee then showed some special messages via video from other Seahawks, including Cliff Avril, Chris Mathews, and Michael Bennett, about being a parent and a favorite memory with their dad.

Doug Baldwin, Jr. talks about not being perfect (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

Doug Baldwin, Jr. talks about not being perfect (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

You could feel the shift in the room as Doug Baldwin, Jr. took to the podium – the moment most of those kids (and dads) were waiting for. A poised, articulate young man, Baldwin, Jr. gave a very poignant speech about how he learned early that a child looks at his parents as infallible and while the parent is trying not to make mistakes, the child also doesn’t want to make mistakes in front of his parents either. But the important thing is that you grow together, so that “when you’re 25, you can sit in a waffle house and have a conversation that changes your life.”

While Baldwin, Jr. had some rough times with his father over the years, he has had a chance to repair the damage. Sitting in that waffle house one day, his father apologized to him and told him that he loved him. Baldwin, Jr. realized that he didn’t have to apologize because he could see the remorse; that his dad wasn’t perfect, but that he was doing the best he could. The way each of them spoke about the other, you could tell that there was mutual respect, admiration, and love amongst any strife that may have once been…and there was clear pride and joy in Baldwin, Sr.’s face when he spoke about his son.

Baldwin, Jr.’s advice, and my personal favorite of the day: Don’t try to be perfect, because when you try to be perfect, you’re showing the child that failure is bad…and that’s not right. Failure is what gets you to the successes. You never lose…you either win or you learn.

Speakers took time to take pictures with each participant (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

Speakers took time to take pictures with each participant (photo credit: Eighty8 Images)

I think the sweetest moment of the day was when Baldwin, Jr. talked directly to the kids, saying, “you know when your parents tell you not to touch the stove and what do you do? Touch the stove, right? Well, your parents have learned a lot of lessons over the years, so listen to your parents, and try to apply what they say so you don’t get burned in life. So when you grow up, you can teach your child not to touch the stove.”

There were many great lessons from all of the speakers that day for both kids and adults – you’re never as good as you think you are, so you always have to work hard. Be all you can be and if you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. Cliché? Perhaps. True? Definitely.

The ICAN Project is just starting out as a non-profit whose mission is to have lectures, hands-on-experiences, and events aimed at engaging our youth in becoming leaders of tomorrow. Gee Scott’s enthusiasm, passion, and support from some phenomenal, altruistic, passionate athletes and friends with the same vision will make a big impact on the community and hopefully one day, sell out stadiums for events like this Father/Sons Symposium as Gee sees it in his dream.

To learn more about ICAN Project events, including an upcoming roast of Doug Baldwin, Jr., or to work with Gee to help some youths in need, visit their Facebook page here.

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