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Former Mariner Dan Wilson Spearheading All Star Softball Classic for Homeless Youth

Dan & Annie Wilson. (Photo courtesy of the United Way.)

This Saturday, June 15th, at Safeco Field, there will be a softball game like no other. And the lineup for the first ever King County All Star Softball Classic for Homeless Youth is pretty amazing.

“Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez are going to play,” says Dan Wilson, former catcher for the Mariners. “Julio Cruz is also part of the lineup. Then we’ve got Gary Payton and Slick Watts from the Sonics. We have Golden Tate from the Seahawks, Steve Zakuani from the Sounders, Jeff Ament from Pearl Jam and Sherman Alexie, the author.”

Oh, and Don! Don O’Neill will be playing too!

Dan and his wife Annie have been acting as co-chairs for the United Way for the past year, and this event aims to raise $500,000 to help homeless youth.

“We were honored to meet with several of them,” Annie says. “A couple of things that blew us away was how incredibly motivated these kids are to get off the streets. They don’t want to be there and they’re really ambitious and hard working. They’ve just found themselves in these difficult circumstances for a variety of reasons. When they share what they’re most fearful of, almost all of them said being alone or lonely. I think that shows they really need the community to come around them.”

Montrai Williams will be at the game this Saturday.

“I’ve been homeless for about seven years, on and off, since probably, like, age 14. I’ve probably stayed about everywhere: hotels, airports, parks, schools, churches.”

But like Annie said, Montrai is motivated to do something amazing with her life. She dropped out of school in the 11th grade, but now has her GED and is earning a degree in business at Seattle Central Community College.

“In want my own non-profit organization, I want my own record label, I want my own restaurant. I feel like I’m a big entrepreneur type person and I just want to open a lot of business and [create] a lot of jobs to get my friends off the street. Or give certain people who’ve been through situations I’ve been to opportunities that other people won’t give them.”

Montrai says she always liked school, but she felt judged by teachers and students and the teasing lead to fights.

“I would love it if we had a homeless youth awareness type thing in schools. When kids are homeless they go to school so they can see other people and be around other people and not be by themselves. But when you can’t go to school because people at school are teasing you or you just feel uncomfortable or unwanted at school, now you’re even more homeless and you’re even more lost. The one place you could go, you don’t want to go there. That’s why I dropped out, yeah.”

I asked her what she thinks homeless youth need most.

“The main thing would definitely be housing so we can not be in the streets and in parks. Trying to find jobs. It’s hard to get a job when you’re homeless in the streets. Wearing the same clothes, can’t go home, change, shower, all that. People look down on you because you’re homeless, without even knowing your situation. It’s like, you’re the same person, you’re just homeless. You’re just going through something at this moment.”

Dan says they want to make kids feel special at the softball game.

“We’ve got a couple of kids who are actually going to be participating on the field as players,” Dan says. “Another big push for us, with this event, is to celebrate youth and bring youth into the limelight.”

Tickets are only $10 and it’s a game for the whole family. Click here to buy tickets.

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