DARRINGTON, WA - 10-year-old Jacob Spelman is a Darrington fourth-grader, who talked about his technique for staying calm, when people around him including his mother, become deeply emotional about the slide.
I just try to kind of block it out of my head," he said.
Blocking techniques are a subject Seattle Seahawks players know intimately. On Monday, six of them threw a new block none of them had ever trained for before.
They spent three hours in a playground atmosphere, trying to get Darrington kids to forget about the death, devastation and stress surrounding them. For three hours, kids would be encouraged just to be kids. Six Seahawks, including Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, joined six Seattle Sounders soccer players on a two-and-a-half hour bus trip to Darrington, where they met more than 400 kids from the Darrington School District.
They played playground games together, they ate dinner together, and they just hung out to talk.
“This is a tragic situation,” said Smith. “There were lives lost and that's not easy to deal with for anyone. I'm not necessarily built to deal with people going through tragedies but I feel if we can help put a couple of smiles on kid’s faces, that’s what we want.”
“It’s pretty amazing," said nine-year-old Aksel Espeland. “This is fun.”
Espeland said everyone in Darrington knows someone directly affected by the mudslide. “A couple of people we knew were around the flood, and we had some people we knew that were under the mud,” he said.
On Saturday night, Sounders’ forward Kenny Cooper scored his first goal for his new team. On Monday, his goal was to help kids forget the mud and stress for a few hours.
“It's always nice for us to interact with fans,” Cooper said. “But to interact with someone who's been going through a tough time, I think it's just that much more special for us, knowing how much it means to these kids."
Little Jacob summed it up for the crowd of kids leaving with smiles.
“I would like to thank the players for coming, he said. “Thanks for cheering us up and just letting us have a good time."