Chargers safety Alohi Gilman has spent the past couple of weeks at training camp in Costa Mesa, but his thoughts have been thousands of miles away.
He was born and raised in the small town of Laie on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. While that’s two islands and nearly 100 miles away from Lahaina, Maui, the site of the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, Gilman says the recent events “have struck a deeply personal chord with me.”
“Maui isn’t just a place on the map; it’s a part of my homeland, my connection to Hawaii,” Gilman said in a statement on the team’s website. “My heart resonates with the resilience of the people who lost their homes while also stepping up for their neighbors in need.”
The Chargers have teamed with the 11 other major professional sports teams in Los Angeles — the NFL’s Rams, the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the WNBA’s Sparks, MLB’s Dodgers and Angels, the NHL’s Kings and Ducks, MLS’ Galaxy and LAFC, and the NWSL’s Angel City FC — to donate a combined $450,000 to help provide relief to those affected by the fires.
The teams announced the donation Thursday in a joint statement that highlighted some of the ties those organizations have to Hawaii, including the Dodgers opening a baseball and softball academy in Waipahu last year, the Lakers and Galaxy holding past training camps on the islands and the Angels having a Triple-A affiliate in Honolulu for several seasons on and off between 1962 and 1970.
Some of the teams have also announced individual efforts to provide aid for the fire victims. The Rams will wear custom “Mālama Maui” T-shirts on the sideline Saturday during their preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium. Those shirts are also for sale, with the team donating proceeds from that and other fundraisers to the American Red Cross’ fire relief efforts.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with people that are affected with those Maui fires,” Rams coach Sean McVay told reporters Thursday. “It’s a terrible thing. … We want to do our part.”
The Ducks announced that team owners Susan and Henry Samueli made a “substantial donation” to the Maui Strong Fund through their Samueli Foundation.
The Chargers said they will donate a minimum of $50,000 to relief efforts, with the team raising funds during its preseason game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
“Hawaiians represent a rich tapestry of culture, family, and values that embody the spirit of Aloha,” Gilman said. “And it’s our privilege to share the warmth of Aloha with the world. I implore everyone to embrace the Aloha spirit, to extend your hand in solidarity with Maui. Whether through donations, acts of kindness or spreading love far and wide, let’s join together in making a difference.”
The teams are encouraging fans interested in donating to to support their Hawaiian fire relief efforts to visit redcross.org.