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Professional Athletes from Hawai‘i Launch Challenge to Support Hawai‘i Island Communities Impacted by the Kilauea Volcano

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Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker from the reigning Super Bowl championship football team the Philadelphia Eagles, has joined together with professional athletes from Hawai‘i who are with the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to raise monies to support local island communities that have been affected by the recent disasters, especially those impacted by the devastation caused by the Kilauea Volcano on Hawai’i Island.

Six professional athletes, including Grugier-Hill, are launching the Be A Hero for Hawai‘i Challenge with the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF). Founding athletes include: Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota, UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway, UFC Fighter Yancy Medeiros, St. Louis Cardinals Second Baseman Kolten Wong, and Texas Rangers Infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

The Be A Hero for Hawai‘i Challenge is a friendly competition to encourage their teammates, rivals, and fans to give to their island home and see which team sport is able to raise the most in donations. Funds raised through the Challenge will be directed to the Hawai‘i Island Volcano Recovery Fund at HCF to assist with long-term recovery efforts with a focus on supporting housing needs for residents who have been impacted by the Kilauea volcanic eruption, as well as relief and recovery efforts in other Hawai‘i communities should another disaster occur.

“It has been devastating to see all of the destruction caused by the volcano on the Big Island – my sister-in-law and her family are one of hundreds who have lost their homes. And these families won’t be able to return to their community,” said Grugier-Hill. “It is going to take a long time to rebuild and they will need a lot of resources. 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 Hawai‘i to join in. These guys didn’t hesitate and were immediately on board. That’s just how Hawai‘i 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.”  
“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,” said Micah Kane, CEO and president of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. “We are extremely grateful for all of the donations to the Hawai‘i Island Volcano Recovery Fund and their openness to support other Hawai’i communities when a disasters hits. Our responsibility is to make sure that we work with county government, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to understand where the needs are the greatest and to deploy those donations in the most effective way so that our communities can rebuild and heal.”
When asked why the athletes decided to participate, they shared the following:   
 
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans -
 
"It means a lot to me to be able to join in with other professional athletes from Hawai‘i to help out the families suffering on Hawai‘i Island. The people from Hawai‘i have supported all of us throughout our careers and now it's our turn to give back to them. The volcano is causing a lot of damage and we know it's not over. They're going to need a lot of help in assist the families in need and helping them to rebuild. We are asking all of the state to pitch in any way they can. My hope is that everyone will join us for the Be A Hero for Hawai‘i Challenge. The Hawai‘i Challenge is a friendly competition between athletes from the NFL, Major League baseball and the UFC. I know fans of the NFL will step up and help us win the challenge. Mahalo for your support."  
 
Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals -
 
"Being from the Big Island of Hawai‘i, 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. Giving back is always number one. We always want to take care of our family, take care of our ‘ohana. Hawai‘i is definitely part of our ‘ohana."
 

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas Rangers -
 
"It's a humbling thing to be alongside these other athletes from Hawai‘i to give back to the community affected by the devastating volcano. I just wanted to be part of helping the community, giving back and doing anything we can to lookout for them."
 
Max Holloway, UFC Fighter -
 
“Imagine waking up one day and all of a sudden someone is telling you to get out of your house and that you can only take a few things with you. Then you find out that your house is gone and your entire world is turned upside down. That’s what happened to those families on Hawai‘i Island. And that’s why we have to come together now. To all my MMA fans, it’s time to show the world who’s the best fans in the world.” 

Yancy Medeiros, UFC Fighter -
 
“I think that’s the greatest thing about the Hawaiian people – is when we go outside and represent and compete, we represent our islands, we represent our people. Then when it’s a time of need, we come together and we try to help each other out. Come on MMA Fans, it’s a friendly competition and in the end we all helping each other. We’re helping Hawai‘i.”

“We will be actively recruiting more of our Hawai‘i brothers and our teammates from the NFL, MLB and UFC to join the Challenge. We all love a good competition – and this one is for a good cause,” added Grugier-Hill.

Donations to the Be A Hero for Hawai‘i Challenge can be made online at www.HeroesforHawaii.org or by mail at Hawai‘i Community Foundation, 827 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, HI, 96813. Note which sports team is being supported when sending donations via mail.

To track the progress of each “team” during the Be A Hero for Hawai‘i Challenge, visit www.HeroesforHawaii.org.