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Best Local Hero: Jermaine Kearse

Winner in 2017's Best of Tacoma

Jermaine Kearse has the world on his back and Mount Rainier in his rear view during a visit to Thea’s Park, located on Dock Street in Tacoma on July 23, 2017. Photo credit: Gary Lott

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Is it fame? Success? Giving back to the community? Being a role model, maybe? Volunteering? Supporting local military veterans and their families? A local college education (unless you're a Coug fan)? An overall persistent will to achieve bigger and better things for one's self, family and community as a whole ... in turn, inspiring others to do positive things?

If any or all of those are a requirement, then there's really no curiosity on why Jermaine Kearse has been named the Best of Tacoma 2017: Local Hero.

"I have grown up in this community, so it's always played a role on who I am today," said Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.  "The support here is unreal and I'm very appreciative of those who have followed my career and supported me the whole time."

There is an unreal amount of support for Jermaine here because he was born in Lakewood, graduated from Lakes High School, became a University of Washington alum that would then become a Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and Super Bowl winner.

Jermaine is also a Joint Base Lewis-McChord "Military Brat"  (back when it was still Fort Lewis and his father served there) that would find a way of continuing an impact "off the field" by giving back to the heavily military-influenced community that he grew up in.

Jermaine became the creator of a program that supports veterans, their families and specifically, Gold Star Kids, or kids that have lost their parents in a service-connected death.  This program would become the USO Northwest 15 to 1 Jermaine Kearse Programs.

This newly joint partnership with the USO Northwest has forged Kearse's legacy in the community completely apart from any football game.

"Jermaine Kearse shows the kids that no matter where you come from, you can succeed in anything you set your mind to," said Washington National Guard Staff Sgt. Jennika Cardenas, who noted her three boys actually having a conversation with Kearse during a Mariners game in 2016 when he provided dozens of free tickets for veterans and military youth.

"Hard work and determination is all you need and you can still achieve it all by staying humble and giving back to where you came from," she added.

The USO Northwest 15 to 1 Jermaine Kearse Programs, and Jermaine specifically, have found a way to support military youth with free tickets to Seahawks, Rainiers and Mariners games, sent 15 military youth on a free educational tour of Washington, D.C., sent hundreds of youth on an educational learning experience at the Junior Achievement: JA BizTown facility in Auburn, visited the Washington School for the Deaf, participated in Wear Blue: Run to Remember events and took dozens of youth to visit and tour the Washington State Capitol ... and the list goes on.

"You never forget where you came from, and I just wanted to be able to give others a chance to make the most of their opportunities," Kearse added. 

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