Brock and Salk

Beast Mode or not, plenty of Seahawks stars planned for Celebrity Waiter fundraiser

John Schneider and his wife Traci are hosting their annual charity event April 23 for Ben's Fund. (AP)

It’s probably safe to call Marshawn Lynch the most persuasive celebrity star at the annual Celebrity Waiter fundraising event held by Seahawks general manager John Schneider and his wife Traci. Although the beloved running back still seems to be enjoying his worldwide retirement adventure, is there any way he makes a trip back for the event?

“I’m not sure we can get a camel in there,” John Schneider quipped on “Brock and Salk” Tuesday.

Beast Mode or not, more than 25 Seahawks players, coaches and alumni – including Doug Baldwin, Pete Carroll, Jimmy Graham, Russell Wilson and Jim Zorn – are expected to attend the fifth annual charity event scheduled for April 23.

The sold-out fundraiser at El Gaucho in Bellevue benefits the Schneiders’ organization, Ben’s Fund, which provides grants to families in Washington State who support a child or children on the autism spectrum. The grants cover costs associated with medical bills, therapies and other resources the child may need.

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Traci said the event has raised more than $1.4 million since it started, with more than 800 grants going to families across the state. An online auction will be held through April 29.

According to the Center for Disease Control, about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder.

Traci says the average cost of providing care for a child on the spectrum is between $60,000 and $70,000 per year. The Schneiders, whose 14-year-old son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, became autism advocates after seeing firsthand how expensive it is to raise a child under these circumstances.

“We realized pretty early how incredibly expensive it is to care for a kiddo on the spectrum,” Traci said. “So when we finally got to the point where we had a platform and we were in a place in our lives with our family that we could give back. We wanted to give back directly to the family.”

The event is not the only way the Seahawks are giving back to autism. The team is donating 10 percent of sales for every regularly-priced hat and knit cap sold in April to Ben’s Fund. The Seahawks also launched a program in partnership with A OK Autism to provide toolkits that will make CenturyLink Field and gameday activities more user-friendly for fans on the spectrum. The toolkits include noise canceling headphones, ear plugs, sensory toys and a detailed schedule to help keep track of the game, plus an “I’M A-OK” identifier badge.

Ben’s Fund, which is managed in partnership with Families for Effective Autism Treatment, is also hoping to distribute 400 Microsoft Surface Tablets free of charge to eligible families.


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