Teacher spends tip money to buy kids Hawks jerseys

Print
Email
|

by ERIC WILKINSON / KING5 News

KREM.com

Posted on January 25, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Updated Saturday, Jan 25 at 10:53 AM

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Kevin Zelko has a gentle way about him. He is calm and patient as he works with special education students at Seattle's Kimball Elementary School. His other side is that of a rabid Seattle sports fan and he loves to see it rub off on the kids.

"With the Seahawk-mania going on, it's been great. The kids are so excited," he said.

Many of the students proudly wear their Seahawks gear to school, but not not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford it. While their spirit is strong, for many the $45 for a jersey is to large a cost.

Sixty-three percent of the kids at Kimball are low income. Among them, 5th grader Kidist Habte. The daughter of a Somali cab driver, she bonds with her family over the weekly football games.

"Well, my dad will be yelling and he's always yelling, and my mom is like, 'what's going on?!' Because she gets scared," Habte said.

On Friday afternoon, the students at Kimball gathered for a special Seahawks assembly. Hundreds of hyped young fans chanted, sang and cheered at teeth rattling volumes. Former Seahawks Tony Benjamin and Nesby Glasgow fired them up even more.

Then, the moment Zelko had been waiting for. Teachers started handing out Seahawks jerseys to the children.

"This is what it's all about," he said, with a grin that could stretch the length of Century Link Field.

But that moment almost didn't happen.

It all started less than two weeks ago when Zelko decided to buy a few of the kids in his class some jerseys. To supplement his income Zelko also works as a beer vendor at Seahawks games. The fans have been very good to him during the playoffs and he wanted to share the wealth.

When administrators found out, however, they said it wouldn't be fair for some kids to get jerseys, and not all.  So, Mr. Zelko took his beer money and brewed up a plan.

"We needed a touchdown to get every kid a jersey," he said.

Zelko launched a crowdsourcing campaign, and in just 12 days he scored $25,000. It's enough to get every kid at Kimball, all 470 students, their own game day jersey.

What's left over will fund tutoring and buy tablets for students. The beer slinging special ed teacher hopes the kids will learn a lesson about perseverence.

"To keep working hard, to reach your goals and make things happen," Zelko said.

For Kidist it's about more than just rooting on a football team. As she slipped on her her 12th Fan jersey, she said it's really about this community showing its true colors.

"I'm really happy that my school is together, like one big family, and supporting the Seahawks," she said.

Print
Email
|