K.J. Wright stood in front of a group of school children in Maasai Mara, Kenya, his voice cracking as he fought back tears.
“To do this, this is hands down the best thing I’ve done in my lifetime,” the Seahawks linebacker said in a video posted on Instagram. “… This is truly a blessing to do this.”
Earlier this month, Wright returned to Kenya for a second straight year, this time returning to the village where two new freshwater wells have been built with money he raised via donations and his own contributions. Wright went to Kenya last offseason thinking it would just be a vacation, but while visiting a school in Maasai Mara, he saw kids drinking dirty water and felt compelled to do something.
After pledging money for each tackle made in 2018, encouraging fans and local businesses to donate, donating some of his own money, and a $25,000 contribution from the NFL for being the Seahawks’ Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award nominee, Wright was able to raise more than $75,000, enough to fund two wells.
“It was just amazing,” Wright said. “The whole experience was great. The best part was visiting the well and going to the school to hear the stories of everyone. A principal who has been there his whole life said he hadn’t had fresh water at any of the schools in the area. They had to share water with the animals. It was just a heartfelt story. For me to be able to help make their lives easier, it was hands down one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.”
The trip, which included a large group of family members and friends, including former Seahawks linebacker Mike Morgan, began in Nairobi and also included a safari as well as a hot air balloon ride, which Wright said was another highlight of the trip.
The tears shed in Maasai Mara weren’t Wright’s first of the trip; he also got emotional when Skye Idehen, the organizer of the trip and best friend of Wright’s wife, Natalie, asked everyone in the group to introduce themselves.
“The first time I cried, our travel agent had everyone stand up and introduce themselves and share what they were most excited about for the trip,” he said. “I got all emotional just seeing my family there, traveling across the world, going to Africa, being African American, going back to your native country, that felt really good. The second time was when we went to the well and I was talking and just saying how thankful I was that I could do this for these people. I truly felt that God put me on this earth to help others, and to be able to do that felt really good… It was really cool just being able to see it in person and see the kids and hear their stories. That meant a lot to me, just seeing kids having clean water to drink and wash their hands.”
Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright visited Kenya for the second straight offseason, this time returning to the village where two new freshwater wells were built using funds Wright helped raise.