A day after raising more than $350,000 for juvenile diabetes awareness at his third-annual Dining to Make a Difference event, Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril saw his wife Danita board a plane with Seahawks Legend Marshawn Lynch and members of the Cliff Avril Family Foundation to Haiti, where on Thursday afternoon the group opened the first two classrooms at a school that Avril, Lynch, and other NFL players started rebuilding earlier this year.
"It's an elementary school," Avril told reporters before Thursday's Seahawks practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. "And they literally, probably like 30, 40 minutes ago, cut the ribbon to allow all the kindergarteners and first graders to come in."
Through his foundation, Avril has worked closely with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) chapters in Seattle, Charlotte, and his hometown of Jacksonville. But with both of his parents being of Haitian descent, Avril "felt like it was time to take it back home" when it came to his off-the-field efforts.
That's what led Avril to contact Lynch, who put Avril in touch with Free The Children, now WE Charity, a group that amongst other things, "goes around the world and builds schools in third-world countries," as Avril put it. It was a mission Avril has said he chose to support in order to help promote education and healthy living in a part of the world where diabetes is very prevalent.
"He put me in contact with them and he told me if I was serious he would definitely support," Avril said of Lynch's involvement. "He's been all-in ever since we made that connection."
Working with the former Seahawks running back's Beast Mode brand, Avril has teamed with the "very supportive" Lynch and cornerback Richard Sherman to launch an exclusive line of clothing called #Bricks2Books, which is available for purchase at Lynch's Beast Mode store in Seattle. Avril said proceeds from the clothing line "go to helping finish building the school" in Haiti.
"I'm proud of Marshawn and some of the things he's doing and how he's able to parlay the Beast Mode name and have these stores and people are so happy to be a part of that movement," Avril said. "It's pretty cool."
The Cliff Avril Family Foundation and Seahawks Legend Marshawn Lynch helped open an elementary school in Haiti, a project Avril, Lynch, and other NFL players undertook this past summer.