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Camryn Bynum Hosts Filipino Fiesta, Strengthens Connection to Heritage

ST. PAUL – This was a whole new kind of footwork for Camryn Bynum.

The Vikings safety is used to swift movements and reacting quickly, but trying Tinikling, a traditional Filipino dance, initially had him off-balance and mis-stepping as the tempo increased.

"It was hard. I thought it would easy. I thought it was just normal footwork," Bynum laughed. "But when you need to start keeping your eyes up, plus doing it with a partner and having to spin around in circles, it was tough.

"I respect them so much for going out there and doing that and doing it at the speed they're able to," he added of experienced dancers. "That's something I've always wanted to do, Tinikling, and I had fun doing it. I'm super eager to learn it and master it."

Bynum tried the dance earlier this month at the Filipino Fiesta, a unique fundraising evening put on by his Bynum Faith Foundation. Hosted at Metropolitan State University and catered by Apoy and Kusina, the event not only gave attendees an opportunity to meet the Vikings safety and immerse themselves in Filipino culture but also to support a cause deeply important to the Bynum family.

"From the outside looking in, it might just look like a party – we're eating, we've got live music, dancers here," Cam said. "But I let everybody know, it's really bigger than us. What we're doing here is for a cause across the world that may end up changing somebody's life.

"I let everybody know their fundraising and everybody's prayers and support is going to help somebody in the future," he added. "Every single dollar we [raise] is all going back to helping typhoon victims, people who are [living in] poverty and also in bringing [American] football to the Philippines."

View photos of Vikings safety Camryn Bynum's foundation, The Bynum Faith Foundation, hosting the Filipino Fiesta.

Cam credited his mother, Jen, for her efforts in putting on the second annual event.

"The turnout was crazy. I didn't expect it," said Cam, smiling as he looked throughout the bustling venue. "I've been so focused on football, so I wasn't really part of seeing all the numbers and everything. But seeing all the people here is really a blessing, just seeing all the people who wanted to support our mission and what we wanted to do."

Jen hurried happily around the room, grinning from ear to ear as she mingled with guests, checked in on the silent auction items and handed out hugs left and right.

"It is so amazing to see all these beautiful people come out, and they do it because they want to support our Filipino culture, our people and everything we do over in the Philippines," Jen said. "We get so many messages on our Instagram and Facebook and about how they love that we give back. … It means a lot. We're so happy to support.

"We have a big Filipino support system in Minnesota, which I didn't even know," added Jen, who lives in California but spends much of her time doing foundation work in the Twin Cities. "So yeah, it's a big deal."

The Bynum Faith Foundation's mission is to provide aid and holistic relief to underprivileged communities across the United States and the Philippines by means of food distribution and psychological first aid to disaster victims, helping rebuild homes, distributing educational supplies, and inspiring youth in athletic activities.

The foundation has been doing extra work in Minnesota communities around the holidays, including Monday evening when Cam took 50 young people from Boys & Girls Clubs on a shopping spree.

Cam and Jen both are motivated by their Christian faith to serve others and hope to spread joy and positivity in whatever ways they're able.

"We do this as a family, and if it wasn't for our faith in the Lord, we wouldn't be here using this NFL platform to give back to people and share love and God's grace," Jen said.

View photos of Vikings safety Camryn Bynum hosting a holiday shopping event with his foundation and the Boys & Girls Club.

Cam echoed her thoughts, explaining why he believes so strongly in using his NFL platform to make a difference.

"We want to serve like Jesus. That's the biggest thing we focus on," he said. "If anything is for our own personal gain, we don't want to do it. All the glory goes back to God. So being able to do this is ultimately bringing Him glory by how many people we're able to [impact]."

One person the Bynum Faith Foundation has impacted is Josiah Malong, a sophomore running back and defensive end at East Ridge High School. Proud of his own Filipino heritage, Josiah is grateful for Cam and the influence he's had since being drafted by the Vikings in 2021.

"I think Cam is a great example to look [up to], especially because he's Filipino and he's spreading good, positive energy through this fundraising [and foundation work]," Josiah said. "I think he's a great role model. That's why I came here tonight, to celebrate that.

"It inspires me. The Philippines, we don't [have as many] great athletes. We have Manny Pacquiao. Everybody watches his fights," Josiah continued. "And now, we've got Cam Bynum. At my church on Sundays every week, 'Oh, are you gonna [watch] the Bynum game? Are you gonna go?' Him being Filipino and in the NFL, it has a big impact on the community. Especially here in Minnesota."

Cam was touched by Josiah's words. For a moment, the usually chatty 25-year-old was speechless.

"For me, Manny being one of my favorite athletes of all time, seeing how he impacted me and inspired me, and somebody saying I'm doing that for them? That's a huge blessing. It's humbling," Cam said. "I think that I'm just going to continue to work hard so I can continue to be an inspiration to people, and I want to be that positive role model for anybody. Knowing I can impact somebody's life for the better, I need to take that opportunity and do it."

Watching Jen interact with Cam, the pride in her son is undeniable.

But it's not just because he's a starting safety in the NFL. Perhaps more importantly, she's proud of Cam's heart for others and his off-field work for the country he now considers his second home.

"Filipinos have such a heart of gold. Our community, as you can see, is very strong," Jen said, gesturing across the room. "There are a lot of people whom I've never met, but they come up to me and say, 'We love what you're doing.' We're just like one big happy family. It's like we're locking arms. They might not know us personally, but they love to support the Philippines."