Seahawks wait tables in Bellevue for Ben’s Fund autism fundraiser

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SEATTLE – A whole slew of Seattle Seahawks turned out at the Bellevue El Gaucho on Thursday night to raise money for a cause near and dear to their boss’ heart.

About 20 players joined coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Kris Richard as celebrity waiters at a fundraiser for Ben’s Fund, which provides grants to families to help cover costs associated with medical bills, therapies and numerous other aspects of supporting a child, or children, on the autism spectrum.

Ben’s Fund was established by general manager John Schneider and his wife Traci and is named in honor of their son, Ben, who has autism.

The celebrity waiters compete for “Ben’s bucks” by performing various challenges throughout the dinner.

“This exemplifies what we are as a team - that we’re a family,” said receiver Doug Baldwin.

“It’s not a typical event. We get to mingle with our general manager in ways that a lot of players don’t get to mingle with their general manager. It’s a fun event, and it’s for a good cause.”

The list of participants for this year’s event – the fifth – included Baldwin, G Justin Britt, Carroll, TE Brandon Cottom, LB Brock Coyle, LS Drew Ferris, T Garry Gilliam, TE Jimmy Graham, K Steven Hauschka, C Drew Nowak, C Will Pericak, T Terry Poole, RB Thomas Rawls, Defensive Coordinator Kris Richard, P Jon Ryan, WR Tyler Slavin, SS Robert Smith, C/G Kristjan Sokoli, T Brad Sowell, LB Bobby Wagner and TE Luke Willson.

Gilliam said he was particularly compelled to participate because he has a brother with cerebral palsy.

“I know what it’s like to have a family member with special needs,” he said. “I do everything I can to help him, and obviously with an opportunity like this, with Mr. Schneider and the things he’s doing with Ben’s Fund, it’s obviously a huge opportunity for us.”