Two days after appearing on KHON2 in an interview with Sports Director Rob DeMello which made headlines calling out more pro athletes to offer free camps for children, Honolulu’s Michael Bennett put his generosity on display Saturday afternoon on Oahu.
The Seahawks defensive end hosted the Bennett Foundation’s fourth annual free-of-charge football clinic at Ching Field on the University of Hawaii campus, where more than 700 keiki ages 7-18 took part in the four-hour long event.
Bennett wasn’t alone under the sun as a handful of pros including Laie’s Manti Te’o was on a staff that included a surprise visitor.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, who is a part-time Haleiwa resident, said that he saw Bennett’s story on social media and knew that he needed to support his player.
“He loves being here. He loves giving back. I think he realizes that not everybody understands how unique and special this place is, and he wants to do what he can to do his part and help. To see hundreds and hundreds of kids is awesome. He’s a very unique and special person and I’m thrilled to be able to support him,” said Carroll.
Bennett’s annual football clinic is just one of the many events that the Bennett Foundation holds in the islands each year.
Since relocating to Oahu with his wife, Pele, who is a Hawaii native. Bennett also hosts the annual OCEAN Health Fest, a free event promoting healthier and active lifestyles that features cooking demonstrations, group fitness activities, and a health expo that offers health screenings.
“Kids are what keep me going. The creativity of them, the youth of them. It just makes it really fun. Coming out here and helping these kids just makes it so much fun for me. All these kids have just so much love for the game of football, and it just touches my heart to see how much they want it and how much they compete,” said Bennett.
With the national attention that the foundation garnered over the last few days following his criticism of other pro athletes, including NBA MVP Stephen Curry, who charged $2,250 per child for his overnight camp, Bennett’s foundation was given the opportunity to post from the NFL Instagram account Saturday afternoon.
“First, I want to say, Rob, you broke the story. You went viral. It wasn’t me. I don’t know how you made this go so viral. We were on everything yesterday, it’s crazy man,” Bennett said with a smile.
He adds that he’s proud to put the Aloha State on display.
“Everything we do is about Hawaii and feeding the keiki all around the whole country,” he said. “We started here. We’ve been doing so much around the nation. It’s just been a pretty good experience, man. I grew up dreaming of doing something like this and this turned out pretty well.”
Bennett will continue his off-season training at Hawaii Optimum Performance in Waipio.
To learn more about the Bennett Foundation and see a schedule for future events, click here.