Holmgrens Raise Funds for Congolese Refugees


Medical Teams International sends team to Uganda

SEATTLE, WA (February 10, 2009) – Kathy Holmgren says she is “blown away” by the U.S. State Department’s decision to grant Medical Teams International $594,000 in order to serve the needs of Congolese refugees in Uganda.

Kathy, a nurse and the wife of former Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren, is active with MTI. She, her four daughters, and two sons-in-law are all North Park University alumni, and her husband received an honorary doctorate from the school in 1997.

The State Department awarded the newest grant after Holmgren, her daughters and 100 others collected $60,000 outside Qwest Field on December 21, the day of Mike’s last home game before retiring. They spent several hours before the game and during halftime collecting money in buckets.

The money raised that day enabled MTI to send a team to Uganda to care for Congolese refugees who have fled violence in their country. The grant will fund 12 volunteer medical teams, medicines, staff, vehicles and logistical support.

Jay Phelan, president and dean of North Park Theological Seminary, was among the people raising money outside the stadium. “It was a real privilege to be at Mike Holmgren's final home game and participate in the collection,” Phelan says. “The people were very supportive and gave generously.”

Kathy recalls thinking that the day would not go well. “Weather-wise, the day we collected money was awful and my comment on the way to the game was, ‘We have to be at Qwest but I don't expect anyone beyond the families of the coaches and players to be there.’”

She adds, “I was amazed by the fact that we had an almost full stadium plus all those folks from Chicago who had hoped to come to a somewhat warmer city. And to think they would also volunteer to collect money—wow!”

The Holmgrens’ daughter Calla, came up with the fundraising idea to celebrate the end of her father’s career. “She has been deeply troubled by the conflict in Congo ever since our trip there in 2006,” Kathy says.

Kathy and Calla, an obstetrician, attracted worldwide media attention when they participated in a medical mission to Congo that year and missed the Super Bowl, even though the Seahawks were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mother and daughter hope to travel to Uganda with MTI in May.

Kathy is quick to emphasize the work in Congo has been a “team effort,” and has benefited from Mike’s position. “Ever since the Super Bowl and the great news coverage that Calla and I received because of that trip, I have been even more thankful for Mike's job and his ability to generate positive stories,” Kathy says. “There are folks all over the world who serve, yet our efforts have been highlighted because of our relationship to a famous sport's figure.”