It’s been nearly a month since Harvey slammed the Texas Coast and leaving Houston – the nation’s fourth-largest city – grappling with unprecedented flooding. But many are grappling in other ways to help victims of the storm. BJJ practitioners worldwide held open mats and private lessons to raise money for those devastated by Harvey. Several Houston area school owners were stuck in Las Vegas after the World Masters. As things started to get back to normal in Houston about a week after the storm, people were able to drive around and get groceries from the store. Houstonians have heart and phrases like Houston Strong and Submit Harvey began floating around social media. Houston BJJ enthusiasts started to mobilize for the Houston BJJ community.
Many such as Danny Duckworth with Advantage BJJ and Luis Diaz with Studio 76 opened their doors to schools that had flooded like Al Garza Premier Martial Arts and Team Fusion Martial Arts. Luckily both flooded schools were able to either move students to another local school or clean up within a few days.
Fight To Win Pro CEO Seth Daniels himself is from nearby Katy, Texas. On his Facebook page he announced that all profits from Fight To Win Pro 46 and 47 would be donated to help people in the jiu-jitsu community who had been affected by the natural disaster. The event rose over $15,000. The Advantage BJJ team had several competitors at FTWPro47. One of which was Luke Ljuba who competed despite working 16 hour days as a high electrical lineman after the storm. Luke donated his entire purse to a team member who had lost everything.
Other Advantage members raising funds were Russ West and girlfriend Idaliz Traverso who rose over $400 by making jiu jitsu belt key chains. They sold them at open mats and classes. “A while back I already made myself one and really liked it”, said West. So after Harvey hit and I heard some teammates were affected we wanted to help. After asking a couple people the idea really took off and so what I initially thought would be just a couple here and there ended up being a lot more than anticipated which was great! For the cost for supplies we were able to turn a $100 donation into $400.”
Others in the Texas Jiu Jitsu community stepped up to help too. Shama Ko with Girls in Gi’s along with Advantage BJJ’s own Carrie Duckworth worked to collect gently used Gi’s from several cities across Texas to help those whose training gear were lost to the storm. Advantage was used as a distribution point for southern Houston.
Another notable contributor is Mike Calimbas of Mike Calimbas Photography. If you haven’t heard of him chances are you’ve seen some of his work. Not only is he the official photographer at Fight to Win Pro, but can often be found shooting some of the biggest tournaments like Worlds. Calimbas a fellow Houstonian created a website where people could donate items and services and others could bid on them. To date his site has raised over $31,000.
With fundraising projects big and small Texans have risen to the occasion to show why they are #TexasStrong as they work together to #SubmitHarvey.