Usually sparring against one another in the gym, students from Elevation Combat Sports Academy used Sunday afternoon to take some powerful jabs at cancer instead.
The group hosted a fundraiser Chicken BBQ at Lucky Lanes on Route 60 in Fredonia as a way to donate to not one, but two charity cancer organizations.
Academy students Tam-my Racino, Deni Trippi and Mike Polichetti teamed up to organize a Relay for Life team and the chicken barbecue event in an effort to drive local fundraising efforts toward the awareness of cancer and assist with the medical challenges faced by cancer fighters.
OBSERVER Photo by Ann Belcher
Students and instructors from Elevation Combat Sports Academy traded sparring gloves for plastic gloves during a fundraising chicken barbecue aimed at raising funds for the academy’s Knocking Out Cancer Relay for Life team and the Angela Meade Foundation. The team will take part in Dunkirk/Fredonia’s Relay for Life Event Saturday and will also benefit from proceeds of a fundraising auction sponsored by the Angela Meade Foundation slated for a later date.
Racino and Trippi have been active Relay team members for more than five years and found the right combination of willing participants and a strong community spirit in the company of their fellow Academy students.
Although they battled a more than swift breeze from the parking lot of Lucky Lanes, the crew had a steady stream of traffic to pick up the more than 500 dinners catered by Mike Porpiglia. One dedicated student literally held the group's tent down by hand while the dinners were dished out to customers due to the whipping winds.
"The wind has been tough, but everyone has really worked hard for this event and at the end it all just clicks. It's all worth it, it's always worth it. Sure there are sacrifices, we're giving up a Sunday with our families but it's fun and it's absolutely worth it," stated Trippi.
Academy student Michelle Harriger agreed.
"These events are not just about us, they're about the people that we're helping. We're just taking one day out of our own lives to help someone who may be making sacrifices all year."
One of those people is Angola native Angela Meade. The 41-year-old mother to two teenagers who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer will also be benefiting from the proceeds of Sunday's chicken barbecue sales. Academy student Bill Dennis, a former schoolmate of Meade's, learned of her illness and decided that ECSA was in a position to assist her as well.
Tina Taylor, a close friend of Angela's, added that the proceeds raised for her will go a long way in helping with mounting medical bills for her friend. She and other supporters of Angela's plan to do a Chinese auction, originally slated for Sunday but rescheduled due to the wind, and plan to split the proceeds with ECSA's Relay for Life team.
ECSA Owner Dave Harriger, who lined up alongside his students to serve dinners added, "Everyone really just jumped on board with this. All of us can relate to cancer in some way, or at least know somebody who has been affected by it. And this is just what we do for one another. Deni, Tammy and Mike really busted their butts for this event and a special thanks goes out to them, and everybody who helped make this possible."
While Harriger, and Women's Instructor Janine Dugan are normally accustomed to busting everyone's butts in their new gym at 4863 West Lake Road in Dunkirk, they enjoyed their Sunday giving back with their students.
"It just talks about what a great group we have here. Everyone has been so dedicated to the Relay; so many people are touched by cancer in one way or another. The dedication of the people that are here to their community and to both of these causes is just awesome," stated Dugan.
Besides ECSA's Knocking Out Cancer Relay Team, more than 35 other teams are registered to participate in the June 8 Relay for Life on the campus of SUNY Fredonia. Trippi, Racino and Polichetti remind the community that it's not too late to visit relay.acsevents.org to donate to theirs or other teams and events in the name of knocking out cancer completely.