Puyallup Tribe Member to Throw First Pitch at Mariners Game During Foster Care Month

May 9, 2024
Photo of two adults with a child in the middle smiling at the camera dressed in Seattle Mariners Baseball gear

A young member of the Puyallup Tribe will throw out the ceremonial first pitch during the May 12 Mariners game to celebrate Foster Care Month.

Niko, 8, was chosen to serve as DCYF's First Pitch Kid, an honor given to a child or youth in out-of-home care, as part of the We Are Family Day celebration at T-Mobile Park.

Every year, the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) partners with the Seattle Mariners for We Are Family Day, which celebrates foster parents, kinship caregivers, foster children and youth, and the people who support them.

"Whether you are a foster parent or kinship caregiver, your empathy and selfless dedication to share yourself and your home, makes you an essential partner in our work with children and families," said Natalie Green, DCYF's Assistant Secretary of Child Welfare.

Niko will be the first tribal dependent child to be nominated and selected for this honor. He was nominated by his foster parents Jesse and Lani, who say he is excited to throw the first pitch alongside his sisters and members of his Tribe.

The young Mariners fan found out he was selected at a surprise event arranged by his elementary school, where staff were encouraged to wear Mariners gear. Niko takes great pride in his culture. He loves to drum, sing, and dance. He is a kind, sweet, resilient young person who always looks for the good in all things and always has a smile on his face.

Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed May as Foster Care Month to thank all the foster parents and kinship caregivers who provide a safe and loving space for the estimated 5,500 children in out-of-home care in Washington State. A number that continues to decline -- the lowest seen in four decades.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent or licensed kinship caregiver, visit DCYF's Foster Parenting and Kinship Care webpages, or call 1-888-KIDS-414.