Footballers don aprons for autism; Martin Short still supporting Gilda’s Club three decades on; Hugo House has its cake, eats it too and raises money.
Just inside El Gaucho Bellevue the other night, I spotted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson standing in the bar.
I raised my phone to take a shot — and saw wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Not that I’m complaining, I told him, but you’re blocking my shot.
“I’m just looking out for my man, Russ,” Baldwin told me.
These guys don’t just look out for each other on the field, but off it.
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And they look out for GM John Schneider. Some 23 current and former players and coaches showed up Thursday night for the Prime Time Celebrity Waiter event that benefitted Ben’s Fund, a nonprofit started by Schneider and his wife, Traci, and named for their son, Ben, who is autistic. The fund provides grants to families in Washington state with children on the autism spectrum.
Traci Schneider understands. Since her husband is on the road 80 percent of the year — attending games or scouting — much of Ben’s care is left to her.
“You just ask for help,” she said. “I wasn’t very good at it at first. But I learned, in order to be a better mom.”
More than a dozen players donned white aprons, including Jimmy Graham and Jermaine Kearse, and alumni Sidney Rice and Jim Zorn.
The players don’t take orders but compete for “Ben’s Bucks,” which they collect from attendees in exchange for certain acts — well beyond autographs and posing for photos.
“One year, Doug Baldwin took his shirt off and did a handstand,” said Seahawks communications director Suzanne Lavender.
And Richard Sherman was paid big Ben’s Bucks to call someone and give him grief for cutting him from his fantasy-football team.
No wonder the event was a sellout that raised $574,000.
“The central theme of our organization is ‘always compete’ so we have fun with it,” Baldwin said, before leading me back to the bar to meet Wilson, who was happy to pose for a photo with Baldwin, Rice and Daniels.
All smiles. No blocking.
Short a big supporter of Gilda’s Club
For a funny man, Martin Short has had plenty of heartbreak.
His first serious girlfriend was Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer. Martin’s wife of 30 years, Nancy, suffered the same fate in 2010.
So, of course, Short agreed to come to Seattle to give the keynote at “Surviving with Style,” the Gilda’s Club annual fundraiser, to be held May 1 at The Westin Seattle. (For tickets go to www.gildasclubseattle.org) It’s a way to remember two of the most important women in his life.
“The danger in your life is if you think the answer is trying to forget,” Short said the other day. “You continue in their spirit, and in what they would want you to do. Gilda got so much strength out of a bunch of women getting together and saying, ‘It’s OK, we’re not freaks. We’re just sick.’ ”
I had to ask about his character on Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” — a plastic surgeon clearly inspired by moon-cheeked, white-haired Dr. Frederick Brandt, who committed suicide a few weeks ago. Some blamed the show.
“That was a horrible, horrible tragic story,” Short said. “But I was an actor on a show. If you can’t satirize styles and looks and things because it might offend someone, satire goes out the window.”
Eat your words
Had he chosen to spend his 451st birthday in Seattle, William Shakespeare would have had to attend “Eat Read Hugo,” the annual fundraiser for Hugo House, the Capitol Hill writing center.
The event featured a cake with the Bard’s name on it — along with other desserts inspired by books and authors (a Bavarian chocolate cake for Bavarian writer Thomas Mann, a lemon cake for Aimee Bender’s “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.” You get the picture.)
Equally sweet: news that classes at Hugo House have doubled, the books are balanced and some 10,000 people a year attend classes taught by authors gaining national fame — including David Shields, who gave the night’s hilarious keynote.
“It’s a place that gives writers a lot of ways to interact,” said executive director Tree Swenson, who, along with co-founder Frances McCue, couldn’t stop smiling.
Along with those cakes, Hugo House hustled up some cool auction items: a week at the Vashon house where Betty MacDonald wrote “The Egg and I” and the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series, and a “masquerade dinner” hosted by author Kathleen Flinn and her husband, Mike Klozar.
“Oh, you’re gonna love it,” Klozar told me. “It’s very fun and creepy. There’s a baby crypt in the basement. ‘Ghost Hunters’ filmed there 15 years ago.”