Amanda Ray from H4RI Uganda delivers a Make It Rain donation of medications to administrators of the Koboko Hospital located in northern Uganda.
“Life's not about how hard of a hit you can give...it's about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward.” ― Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
My wife and I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs before moving to New York in our 30s. Watching the Philly-iconic Rocky films and experiencing our own highs and lows, we’ve grown to appreciate the role of the underdog. While the Rocky series is about boxing, it also applies to life - and wrestling. It is advantageous to rally around the ones who keep fighting when the odds are against them; those who keep pressing through pain, hurt, and the exhaustion of working long days and nights to get the job done. Quite like wrestling athletes, underdogs work hard - often when no one is watching - enduring the pain and struggles of training just to be prepared for the opportunity to compete.
Right now, the entire world is wrestling. While many are sidelined or on lockdown, we’re all still in the fight. Our Wrestling for Peace team has continued their diligent work during this time. While we’ve all taken a hit with the global pandemic, we will continue to move forward, often putting our own financial or health concerns aside to help and serve those in need.
In Liberia, our new in-country partner and fellow entrepreneur, Dr. Kimmie Weeks, is urgently advocating for COVID-19 awareness and prevention campaigns through Youth Action International. Recently, their government issued a lockdown order to help curb the spread of the virus. While this is an essential step in prevention, it creates another serious issue with food procurement, especially for orphanages, the disabled and the elderly. Dr. Weeks is urging individuals to support both the medical front and those who desperately need food. They currently have a goal of feeding 333 vulnerable families.
Dr. Weeks stands next to packaged COVID-19 relief items prior to distribution to the most vulnerable Liberians, including those living in the slums.
I was introduced to Dr. Weeks through Alexander Schultz, son of late wrestling champion, Dave Schultz. Alexander’s relentless efforts and desire to serve others is inspiring! He and his wife, Zoë, have been working to provide much needed supplies to the refugees in the Moria Refugee Camp in Greece through their organization, When We Band Together. WWBT supports and operates community centers and safe spaces so those living through the difficult experience of being displaced have places to find safety, happiness, and purpose.
In Uganda, Make It Rain, Speaking Louder, and the Wrestling for Peace program recently helped coordinate a delivery of medicine which has the potential to impact 48,601 patients for a full course of treatment. That is the equivalent to treating every single person in the Arizona Diamondback’s baseball stadium (seating capacity 48,686). The medicine delivered will treat a variety of illnesses, serving the most vulnerable in rural communities, including those on the remote islands of Lake Victoria and refugees that have escaped civil war in northern Uganda from southern Sudan. These projects are carried out by our Entebbe partner, Hope 4 Restoration Initiative, who works day in and day out to serve the less fortunate.
The Hope and Peace Center, a refugee facility ensuring children and women with comfort, care and safe haven from the hardships within the neighboring Moria camp.
Here in New York, we’re doing what we can while maintaining safe practices. My wife and I have been coordinating donations to food pantries through our snack company, Outsiders Kitchen, and our non-profit, Make It Rain. If you have the capacity to help, I would encourage you to contact your local food pantry to see how you can get involved and help. More than ever, they’re playing a vital role in helping individuals and families make it through this tough time here in the US.
Another philanthropically-minded company in our Wrestling for Peace network is FOI Laboratories. They have been working tirelessly, assisting healthcare facilities and other essential businesses that must stay open through supporting their emergency planning procedures.
The dictionary describes the word “wrestle” as to struggle with a difficult challenge or to take part in a fight. As a global wrestling community, we find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented challenge with regards to COVID-19, navigating the impacts on our everyday life, and working toward establishing a new normal.
Outsiders Kitchen co-founder, Austin Landes, preps produce donations for the local food pantry.
The future holds many unknowns and difficulties certainly lie ahead, but one things holds true: We will get through this. The USA Wrestling for Peace program will continue to do its part to advocate for aid and support for our partners during this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with all persons who have experienced pain during this season; keep moving forward.
If there are areas where you’d like to get involved, please contact Lorraine Rorabaugh, USA Wrestling for Peace Program Manager: LRorabaugh@usawrestling.org