Growing up in Los Angeles, Warren Moon was regularly reminded by his mother, Pat, about the importance of education. It's a message that stuck with Moon from his days at the University of Washington through his Hall of Fame NFL career. For Moon, football was the path to a college education, but he realizes not everyone has an athletic scholarship in their future, so in 1989, he started the Crescent Moon Foundation, which is dedicated to "providing support for educational pursuits that will benefit children most in need who have displayed a commitment to their community, as well as other charitable causes."
Moon couldn't have known it when he started his foundation, but that commitment to education would eventually take him to Kenya this summer, where in addition to helping build a school, Moon worked with the Unstoppable Foundation to build housing and a well to provide fresh water for a village in Bogani, Kenya.
"We raised the money, we developed a village, and then this year, I took a couple of board members and my foundation director and we went over, along with another group from Unstoppable who had done the same things, some other donors that had developed other villages over there, and we went over just to see the progress and meet the families," said Moon, who played for the Seahawks in 1997 and 1998 and now serves as an analyst on the Seahawks radio broadcast. "I got a chance to work and help build one of the school buildings, stuff like that, so it was an eye-opening experience for me. You always wonder when you give money to certain causes what actually happens to your money, and I got a chance to really put my hand on it and see exactly what was going on over there. I always wanted to go to Africa but I never wanted to go unless I had a meaning to go, I just didn't want to go as a tourist, so this gave me an opportunity to go do this… It was an amazing experience."
Moon's eye-opening trip included everything from hands-on building to being presented with a goat as a gift—he donated it to an all-girls school—but what stood out most to him was how important education was to parents and children in Kenya.
"They strive for education, they want education so much, whereas our kids here, they take education for granted," Moon said. "These young girls, they wake up at 5:30 every morning, they have study at 6 in preparation to get ready for school that day, then they go to school from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon, and they have another study period at night before they go to bed, and the girls were petitioning to try and get up at 4:30 in the morning so they could study even more, but they wouldn't allow them to do it. They're really, really hungry for education. We had a question-answer period between the group that I was with and a lot of the villagers. They had this big village celebration, and I asked the question to the villagers, 'What's more important to you, clean drinking water, which provides whatever it provides food wise and cleaning—and then there's all this disease that's been in the other water that they were drinking and people were getting disease and dying—or education?' And I thought for sure they'd say clean drinking water, but education is what they said. They said they would go through all of that still as long as their kids got a chance to be educated. I know how important education is them."
Moon's goal is to stay involved in the work the Unstoppable Foundation is doing, while continuing to do work back home with his foundation. He hopes to raise a million dollars in order to develop another village in Kenya in the future, continuing to pass on the lesson instilled in him by his mother so many years ago.
"I think if you have an education behind you, if you have a chance to be educated, you have a chance to be successful in a lot of different areas of life, whether it's politics, medicine, law, business, whatever you want to go into, but if you don't have that behind you then it's going to be hard to be successful," Moon said. "My mother always stressed education to us growing up. I knew that was the only way I was going to go to college was to get an athletic scholarship because we wouldn't have been able to afford it. I'm in a position now where I can help other kids maybe afford it, and that's what I've been doing since '89 when I started this foundation."
Look through photos from Seahawks Legend Warren Moon's recent trip to Africa, where he helped develop sustainable living environments for communities in Kenya.