This month’s Success story is something a little different. It comes to us from Annie and David Iturrino of Mount Dora/Eustis BJJ Academy in Eustis Florida. Annie is a brown belt while David is a black belt. During November of 2014, Annie was diagnosed with cancer. Over the path of two years, she had no idea what challenges we would be facing. Throughout doctor appointments, surgery, and rounds of radiation her jiu-jitsu academy provided a channel for her and David to stay focused on recovery, and reminded them that they still had their “jiu-jitsu family”. They did not allow the cancer to stop them, they continued to train, and continued mentoring their students with the help of their families. It became very apparent to them during these times, that they were not the only ones that had some kid of struggle. Instead of allowing families to quit training due to financial hardships, they helped them, and made sure that they still had the avenue to train. “We wanted to get out into the community to share our story to encourage someone that no matter what they are facing in your life, they can overcome it, sometimes they just need a little guidance and direction”, said Annie. This is why came up with Grappling For Life, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
What is the Grappling for Life?
Grappling for Life is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that provides FREE training in jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts to youth of Lake County, FL. Their focus is to provide youth with skills that help them build self-confidence, and discipline through martial arts. They lead the children with instructors, and youth mentors to help prepare each child for their future both on the mat and off the mat.
Their goal is to raise funds to give this opportunity to over 150 children in their first year. As many of you know, the benefits of training martial arts far extend beyond the mat. Students will develop focused tasks, the ability to succeed, and most importantly believing in themselves. When a child is a member of Grappling For Life, they become part of a family; the atmosphere gives them a sense of security and well being. The students will have an opportunity to seek assistance for homework, training, and mentorship.
What have they done so far?
Annie and David Iturrino have invested in the Lake County community for the last three years helping countless children. With their own money, they have been able to secure a facility, top of the line equipment, and additional instructors ready to help over 150 students at any given time. They became affiliated with Team Brigaderio American Top Team to provide addition training areas for the students.
We’re sharing their story not only to help raise awareness for their effort, which you can check out at grapplingforlife.org to learn more. But also to share the story in hopes that maybe just one more person out there will use this as inspiration on figuring out how you can help give back by giving the gift many gifts of jiu-jitsu to those that could really use it. If you have a story like this one please don’t hesitate to share with us so that we can help continue this mission of spreading jiu-jitsu around the world.