Grapplethon for Haiyan was, in my opinion, one of the most fun things I’ve ever been a part of. The fact that we had over 50 people training at midnight on Friday night says something about how other people felt about it too. It was amazing to see the whole Northwest Grappling Community coming together for a good cause. And we raised over $9,230 after expenses for the victims of the Typhoon, which was donated to the International Red Cross.
The impetus for all of this was the fear and frustration that I found myself feeling while waiting for news of my extended family in Tacloban. My wife's family live there, and while most of them managed to check in right away, we didn't end up hearing from one of her cousins and her three small children for almost a week. It hit me that, since the Grappling Community in the PNW is very Filipino, I am probably not the only one who was feeling like that. So, as a result, I decided to see if we could put something together to help, rather than just feel frustrated. Sure enough, people jumped on board, and we ended up having a total blast while raising a gang of money. If you were there, you know. You learned some moves, sparred with some new people, and generally had a blast. There was no drama, politics, or anything negative. Just a bunch of people training and smiling.
The biggest challenge I personally ran into was that we ended up using the wrong crowdfunding platform, FundRazr. If you are going to donate to a charity overseas, you're really going to want to check and make sure that your platform can handle that. Otherwise, things get messy. You end up paying way too much in commissions and fees as a result. That cost a good chunk of money right there, and ended up being our single largest expense. I think, unless you are way more savvy with the potential tax implications of this kind of thing, you really want to stick to charities based in your own country. But, honestly, if that's the biggest mistake a first timer made on organizing something like this, then we done good.
Anyway, all thanks and praises to the following:
All of our corporate sponsors: Artlete, Keiko Raca, OK Kimonos!, Liberty Events, KristenPhoto, Foster BJJ, Ring Sports United, and the Carter Automotive Group
All the folks who shared the hell out of this project. Especially Mr. Tom Callos and The 100 Method, Team Ivan Salaverry, Georgette “The Red Menace” Oden, James Foster, Michelle Lena, Brian Martin, Eric Young, and all the rest. You know who you are.
My partner John Sylvester, who was instrumental in securing several huge donations, and functions as critical check on some of my crazier ideas. Professor Rodrigo Lopes, for stepping up with the use of Gracie Barra Seattle when it became apparent that we were going to need a bigger venue, as this idea was a huge hit. Brian Martin again, for lending a much needed hand with some of the back end organization and detail work. My wife Stephanie, who was one of the main driving forces behind this project. Thanks for waking me up to a few things. Love you
All together, we managed to donate $9230.44 to the Red Cross Typhoon Relief Effort. Good job, folks.
Photos courtesy of Michael Baltierra: full set on flickr