HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - About a week ago, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett invited fans to join him on a charity hike as the Pro Bowl MVP continues to promote a healthy lifestyle and exercise.
On Sunday, Hawks supporters showed up in droves -- so much so that it actually surprised (72) -- packing the Aiea Loop Trail.
"I didn't expect this turnout," said Bennett, who was greeted by a crowd of cheering fans. "I thought it was going to be a couple of people. But then, I looked around and it's like whoa, that's a lot of people out here, which is really cool. I think the more people you have that are able to connect and to share a message, it just spreads like wildfire. And, if it's about positivity, then that's what we need to be talking about."
The event was organized by the Honolulu Sea Hawkers, a Hawaii-based group of Seahawks fans.
On Sunday, they raised $1,000 to be donated to the Bennett Foundation, which is a charity Michael Bennett and his wife, Pele, started to help prevent childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles.
Bennett said he had his foundation's mission in mind when he opted for a hike over a traditional fan meet and greet.
"I think as an athlete you always want to be able to transcend your sport to be able to talk about other issues," Bennett said. "And, health being an issue that I've seen as super important in our community right now, to be able to have everybody come out, to be able to have everybody walk with me and talk about health, and be out here as a family with my family -- that just shows how connected we are."
After seeing the success of Sunday morning’s hike, Bennett says he’d like to hold more events like it to connect with smaller groups on a more personal level. But for now, he’s just enjoying what the Honolulu Sea Hawkers and the Bennett Foundation have been able to accomplish by bringing fans together and getting active.
"I'm super happy. I never thought the impact that I'd have would go so much past football," Bennett said. "To see how much the impact is, it's super, it's super incredible. It just shows how much unity we have. Like I said before, so many people believe in my message. So many people believe in my character and they believe in what I represent and the team that I represent."
Bennett will also be holding a sports camp and fitness expo next Sunday at T.C. Ching Field on UH's lower campus.
The event begins at 10 a.m. and includes a health expo, a family health and fitness clinic and a high school football camp.