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Wednesday, 08/08/2012, 07:49 am

The MMA Community Joins Together To Help A Young Child

One of my goals when writing about mixed martial arts is to accentuate the positive. When I interview a mixed martial artist I want to show the public who they are outside the cage as well as whom they are inside of it. There is already enough negative publicity surrounding the sport, there is no reason to pile on top of it. When I have an opportunity to write a story that can turn a casual fan into a die-heard or even a non-fan into someone willing to give the sport a shot, I welcome it with open arms.

Another cause that is near and dear to my heart is helping sick children and people who have had the misfortune of being stricken with cancer. In the past I have raised money for a 10 year old boy from my neighborhood that was diagnosed with cancer and for The American Cancer Society. Both times I was assisted by the very generous men from American Top Team. They donated signed gloves and a signed event poster from UFC 59.

This time around the cause was a little different, but just as important. I was introduced to a 7 month old boy named Gavin who was born with a heart condition. By the time he was just 19 days old he had two surgeries and had a pacemaker implanted. Being that I too was born with a heart condition and also have a pacemaker since I was three years old, I jumped at the opportunity to help. The minute I decided to help I wrote an email to all of the contacts I have in the MMA industry and detailed the story of little Gavin.

Gavin’s parents Nicole and Greg were obviously scared and I called them to help alleviate their concerns and to show them that he has a wonderful life ahead of him. I am 37-years-old and lead a full life with two healthy children of my own. Mended Little Hearts is a non-profit organization that helps raise money to help families of children and adults with heart defects and heart disease. They were putting together a fundraiser and I wanted to do all that I could to help.

I was overwhelmed with the response I received from my friends in the MMA community. The first person to respond was Richie Guerriero from American Top Team who simply said, “What can we do to help?” They sent a jersey with many of the camps top fighters signatures on it. From there I was contacted by Janet Jenkins who represents Team Takedown and my good friend Johny Hendricks. To say they went above and beyond is putting it lightly as I received a box full of signed Hendricks pictures, t-shirts and a UFC on Fox 3 event poster.

Those who followed suit were Lex McMahon from Alchemist Management who promised a signed Nate Marquardt event poster from his title winning bout in July against Tyron Woodley. Another good friend and one of the best people in all of MMA, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson sent a signed picture and t-shirt. My girl from Arizona Melissa Ingram is one of the best in the public relations field, she sent me a signed boxing glove with signatures from Benson Henderson, Jamie Varner and Nate Marquardt.

Others who jumped at the chance to help were former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir, UFC welterweight and soon to be lightweight Brian Ebersole and UFC Heavyweight Shawn Jordan. Once I mentioned what I was doing to former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin he asked me for my address so he could help. The compassion and generosity all of these people have shown is truly heartwarming and just goes to show that these fighters are much more than what you see on television.

True mixed martial artists are loyal, friendly and respectful. They will go out of their way to help people during their time of need. I still get goose bumps when I think about the response I received. Here were people preparing for huge fights, raising families and running businesses jumping at an opportunity to help a child they will never meet. Find me another sport where the athletes are so selfless, I think you will certainly have a hard time in doing so.

From Nicole, Greg and their little boy Gavin they express their sincere gratitude to all those who helped. If anyone else would like to donate to Mended little hearts you can email me at bryanlevick@gmail.com and I will give you the details. Thank you for reading.

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