Six pro athletes, including Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota, have launched the “Be A Hero for Hawai‘i Challenge” to raise funds for communities affected by recent disasters, particularly the Kilauea Volcano eruption.
The challenge, launched in partnership with the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, pits local athletes from three different sports against each other to see which one can rally fans, teammates and rivals to raise the most money for the cause. Pro baseball, pro football and pro mixed martial arts are represented. Donors get to choose which sport they support when they donate, but regardless of which team wins, all of the funds raised through the challenge will go to Hawaii Community Foundation’s Hawai‘i Island Volcano Recovery Fund to help cover long-term recovery efforts, particularly housing needs for those displaced by the eruption.
The six participating professional athletes are:
>> Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champion football team.
>> Marcus Mariota, quarterback for the Tennessee Titans.
>> Max Holloway, UFC Featherweight Champion.
>> Yancy Medeiros, UFC fighter.
>> Kolten Wong, second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals.
>> Isiah Kiner-Falefa, infielder for the Texas Rangers.
Grugier-Hill said his sister-in-law lost her home to the Kilauea eruption, so he wanted to help, and thought bringing everyone together could help the cause.
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“It is going to take a long time to rebuild and they will need a lot of resources,” he said. “I had to do something to help and was looking for a way to bring people together around it. So I called other pro athlete friends who were from Hawaii to join in. These guys didn’t hesitate and were immediately on board. That’s just how Hawaii rolls. And being the competitors we are, we thought it would be great to see which one of our sports could raise the most money.”
Wong, who had also launched a GoFundMe campaign when the eruptions began, said he wanted to give back to his hometown.
“Being from the Big Island of Hawaii, using this platform and trying to raise money for these people to restart their lives again and the process to get them into new homes was a no-brainer,” he said. “Giving back is always number one. We always want to take care of our family, take care of our ohana. Hawaii is definitely part of our ohana.”
Said Hawai‘i Community Foundation president and CEO, “Both on and off the field, or octagon, Kamu and the other athletes epitomize what true heroes are. Through their hard work, commitment and dedication they have all found success in their chosen careers but when called upon, they give back to their community and help others — they are setting a great example to the young local kids in our community who look up to them.”
Donations for the challenge can be made at HeroesforHawaii.org or by mail to Hawai‘i Community Foundation, 827 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, HI, 96813. Those mailing donations should note which sports team they support.