Some proceeds from Tuesday’s home game vs. Chicago will support the nonprofit that provides reproductive health care. The Storm has pledged to give $5 from each ticket sold to Planned Parenthood. “We thought that this was something we could do for our community,” Trudeau said.
Each of the Seattle Storm’s three owners has a specific spot where she prefers to sit for the team’s home games: Dawn Trudeau likes to be in her courtside seat, Lisa Brummel watches from about the fifth row, and Ginny Gilder sits halfway up in KeyArena.
They aren’t secluded in a suite. They’re among the fans and talking with them, too. So when the idea to host a game that supports Planned Parenthood emerged, Trudeau said the owners felt “fairly confident that our core supporters would continue to support us and would be actually pleased that we were doing this.”
For the three women who have owned the Storm since 2008, that assessment has appeared to be right. Some proceeds from Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago Sky will support the nonprofit that provides reproductive health care. The idea has sparked an “overwhelmingly positive” response, Trudeau said.
This is the first time a sports franchise has partnered with Planned Parenthood, according to a spokesperson from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI), the branch of the organization for which the Storm is raising money.
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“It brings tears to my eyes,” said Christine Charbonneau, CEO of PPGNHI. “It’s the kind of thing I suppose we always dreamed of if there were ever women owning things, that women would treat other women differently than maybe (what) happens sometimes when men own things.”
Along with an online auction, the Storm has pledged to give $5 from each ticket sold to Planned Parenthood, meaning a sold-out KeyArena of 9,686 spectators would generate a donation close to $50,000.
“We own the team, but we have life experience as women,” Trudeau said of the all-female ownership group. “That’s something that we carry with us and that informs the decisions that we make and that is certainly a part of our DNA — literally and from an organizational standpoint.”
When Trudeau was a fourth-grader in the mid 1960s, she remembers how in gym class, the boys would get to run around and play basketball or kickball, while the girls were told to sit and watch. Trudeau wanted to play but couldn’t.
That’s when Trudeau said she became a feminist. She hadn’t learned that word yet, but as a fourth-grader she realized boys and girls were treated differently, an awareness she has carried into her professional career.
Planned Parenthood holds an annual check-up with its donors, and at that event in November, there was a meeting topic about what the presidential election meant for the organization. Gilder approached Charbonneau and said she wanted the Storm to do something to help, but she didn’t know what that would entail.
A few months later, Charbonneau found out the Storm owners were planning to dedicate a game to the nonprofit.
With the ongoing national health care debate, Trudeau said some Americans could soon lose their health care, and women and children often are among the first. That’s why Trudeau said now is the right time for the Storm’s initiative.
“We thought that this was something we could do for our community,” Trudeau said. “We can’t do anything about the national decisions that are being made, but we can do something to help the people around us.”
Trudeau got her first birth control from Planned Parenthood and said she considers it a place that gave her “the chance to really make the decisions in my life that allowed me get to where I am today.”
Even though Trudeau said a negative response from any group wouldn’t have stopped them from proceeding, the Storm’s owners met individually with the players to explain the partnership.
“We wanted them to know what we were doing, why we were doing it, and if they did want to support it, give them an opportunity to do that as well,” Trudeau said.
Four players — Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Noelle Quinn and Sami Whitcomb — took part in a PSA video the team released last week. The Storm did not make players available to comment on this story.
Tuesday’s matchup with Chicago is the Storm’s only nationally televised home game of the season (6 p.m., ESPN2), which Trudeau said was a factor in choosing this date for the event.
On an individual level, the Storm’s owners have supported various causes. Trudeau has long been on the board of the University of Washington Women’s Center and a member of Social Venture Partners Seattle. Trudeau and Gilder met when they were both board members of the Seattle Girls’ School.
But Trudeau said the owners have never taken a stance like the one for Planned Parenthood that stretches across the entire Storm organization.
“Athletes, they have a platform,” Trudeau said. “We decided as a sports team’s owner, we had one as well.”
The Storm held its Pride Night game in June. There was Breast Health Awareness Night this month. Seattle’s most recent matchup was Inspiring Women Night. However, Tuesday’s game in support of Planned Parenthood is the most risky cause the team has attached to a game, Trudeau said.
The Storm will hold a Stand With Planned Parenthood rally before the game, and protests are expected. The owners understand what’s at stake with a partnership such as this. Even though it hasn’t been the case, Trudeau said the worst result would be if the team’s stance caused fans to feel alienated.
The owners expected pushback given the controversial nature of this issue. Still, Trudeau said this was something the owners felt was important to do, and outside opinions couldn’t outweigh that.
“We understood that we would get some negative feedback from some groups,” Trudeau said. “But we were willing to withstand that.”