Introducing the Mike and Kathy Holmgren Center

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June 21, 2010

By Bill Boehlke

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Mike Holmgren, the former Seahawks head coach who is now president of the Cleveland Browns, may no longer live and work in the Northwest these days, but his heart, and name, will always be connected to a Redmond-based international humanitarian organization.

Medical Teams International announced in a ceremony on Friday, June 18, that its new regional headquarters in Redmond, currently in the design and construction phase, will be officially named the Medical Teams International Mike and Kathy Holmgren Center, in honor of the longtime volunteers.

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“To be able to contribute and to help in any way we could over the years was a positive thing for us,” said Holmgren, who along with his wife, Kathy, flew in from Ohio to be at the press conference at the new headquarters. “We are a small part of so many people working hard to help other people. Medical Teams International makes such a huge difference, this is a special thing.”

“We may not live here anymore, but we’ll always be part of the team here at Medical Teams International,” he said.

Medical Teams International provides relief aid – in the form of medical supplies and volunteer labor – to more than 100 countries struck by poverty, conflict or disaster, such as the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

Kathy, a nurse, has traveled with several disaster relief teams for the Redmond organization throughout Mexico, Romania, Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Her daughter, Dr. Calla Holmgren, a physician from Salt Lake City, Utah, accompanied her on the trips to Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

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“It’s an experience hard to describe,” Kathy said of her volunteer efforts. “We are truly humbled. We are just part of the team that provides hope for others. This organization makes such a huge impact in the lives of people who need help. I’m glad Mike and I are part of this wonderful effort.”

As head coach of the Seahawks, Mike helped organize multiple game-day fundraisers that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization’s relief efforts.

Following the end of the 2008 season and his tenure as Seahawks head coach, Mike accompanied Kathy on his first relief mission, where they poured concrete foundations for low-income housing.

Speaking in the new giant building and flanked by a picture of him and Kathy in Mexico, Mike admitted his humanitarian work was tough on the body, but the rewards eased the pain.

“In this picture right here, I don’t look tired,” he said, “but I was tired. We had a chance to go to Mexico and put in concrete floors. It was tough work, but it made a great, great difference in people’s lives. It was such a rewarding experience.”

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Medical Teams International has shipped $1.3 billion in aid since 1986. The organization sent $182 million in medical-related supplies globally this year. The new 21,346 square-foot building, which will be renovated over the next six months, will include office space, an onsite warehouse for medical supplies and a walk-through, multi-sensory exhibit that allows people to experience what “real life” is like for children and their families affected by disaster, conflict and poverty.

Holmgren, who led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl appearance in 2005, has experienced plenty of success in his football career, but he says nothing is better than reaching out and helping others.

“This is a lot different than football, that’s for sure,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us, or for anybody, to give back. They mean what they say: they help the people that need it, and we are so proud to help that cause.”

Not surprisingly, the longtime football executive says that although his name is on the building, the nonprofit’s work is a “team effort.”

“I’m just the bit player, there are a lot of stars out there.”

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