I don’t think you can ever prep for the day you’re sitting beside a Superbowl champion at 39,000 feet altitude. But Russell Wilson is sporting a Hawaiian shirt with jeans, and his relaxed and friendly demeanour invites me to just sit back and enjoy the ride with the 26-year old Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback.

It’s April 18th and we’re flying out of Maui, where Russell hosts his annual team-building camp that he started since joining the team in 2012. It’s usually only the Offensive skill players that attend, but this year, Russell had the guys from defense join so both sides of the ball can come together. He also personally invited the Luvo team to join and serve up nutrition-packed meals for the guys during the week.

That’s the kind of guy Russell is.

He brings people together and builds community connections in every aspect of his life. Fans also know him for his charisma and commitment to initiatives off the field – including weekly visits to the Seattle Children’s Hospital, partnership with United Way and founding his own organization like the Passing Academy (a camp to promote active and healthy lifestyles to youth) and the Why Not You foundation, which creates awareness and dialogue for major issues facing society, such as domestic violence.

The camp was five days of 6-hour training sessions – half-day of drills on the field and the other half in the weight room – mixed in with a Luau, snorkelling and a game of two-hand touch on the beach, you can call it boot camp in paradise.

So what was I doing in Hawaii with Russell? At this point in time, Luvo didn’t even have an “official” relationship with him, but he’s already let us into his inner circle. What I knew for certain was that they were going to be a bunch of hungry guys.

Here’s what we served up:

Russell’s pick is the Chicken Poblano Verde burrito. As a self-proclaimed foodie, he admits he was a frozen-food skeptic until he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ at how good Luvo tasted. When he told us he wants to be a leader in changing the way people eat, we knew this was the beginning of a great partnership.

Like many of us, Russell grew up eating fast food. It wasn’t until college that he started to think about what he was putting into his body. “I realized that in order to have the type of career I wanted and to play this game for 20 years, I needed healthy eating and proper nutrition to be as important as the physical training.”

While Russell was starting to feel the effects of real food and nutrition as a high-performance athlete, he also saw diabetes take its toll on his father. When he passed away at 55-years old/ a young age, he knew he wanted to send a message to youth about the importance of healthy eating.

“Leaders like Derek Jeter and I are in a unique position where we can affect people’s lives. We’re looking for a change that gives hope to the next generation and Luvo can be that difference maker.”

Whether you’re a professional athlete or not, Russell knows from first-hand experience that eating well isn’t easy. That’s why we’re on the journey with him in hopes of making healthy eating accessible to as many people as possible.

As we get closer to landing in Seattle, Russell had already prepared a hand-written card for the Luvo team. Just like how he shows up in his game, Russell is always a few steps ahead taking each opportunity with stride and focus for his team, on and off the field. Welcome to our Luvo team, Russell.

Russell-Wilson-Seahawks-Luvo-Letter

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