Since making Honolulu his offseason home several years ago, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has formed a special bond with his adoptive hometown and the people who call Hawaii home.
So when it came time for the Bennett Foundation to host a football camp, Bennett didn't just want it to be a fun event for local kids, he also wanted it to be free.
"That comes from my mom and dad growing up in the community and always giving back," Bennett, who is from Houston, but whose wife, Pele, is from Hawaii, told Honolulu's Khon 2 News. "My dad was a part of the school board, my mom worked in the district for 20 years, and I just always wanted to give back and always make it free. Because growing up, I know I wasn't able to afford the things like going to certain camps or doing certain things."
On Saturday, Bennett will host his fourth annual camp at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with more than 700 kids, age 7 through 18, expected to attend. Also scheduled to participate are NFL players Manti Te'o, who is from Hawaii, and O'Brien Schofield, who was teammates with Bennett for two seasons in Seattle.
Bennett, who appeared in his first Pro Bowl in Hawaii earlier this year, noted that the game was special for him not just because he was being recognized as one of the NFL's best players, but also because of the connection he has with Hawaii. He also lamented the fact that the game was under criticism and could end up leaving Honolulu—the league later announced that next year's Pro Bowl will take place in Orlando.
"I just feel like when I got here I really felt at home, more than any place I've ever been," Bennett said. "For a place to give you peace of mind and peace, it's one of the things that you can't really buy. You have to really feel it. It has to be genuine so I genuinely feel love for this place and I genuinely just want to give back to it in a way that nobody's ever seen."
Online registration is full for Saturday's camp, but Khon2 reports that on-site registration will be available.
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett launched 'The Bennett Foundation' to fight childhood obesity through community outreach, healthy living, and education.