By Marty Israel 10-26-2009
Mesquite Local News
In the near two years that I have been writing for Mesquite Local News it has been my great pleasure to cover the many charity events that dot the annual calendar.
And if there is one thing I have learned it is this; when it comes to charity it seems the generosity of the citizens of this area knows no bounds.
With the holiday season fast approaching I find myself looking forward to the myriad events that will be taking place.
Last year, I was simply blown away by the outpouring of support for the Golf Fore Kids toy drive. I had never seen so many toys in my life outside of a Toy’s-R-Us store, and I am quite certain this year’s event will equal or surpass the last. There is the Angel Tree project which is unlike any charity event I had been exposed to before.
And now our fair town has another event that with any luck will grace the calendar for many years to come, and it is one that I think ranks right up there with the best of them.
I am talking about last week’s “Xtreme Combat Weekend” put on by Randy Couture and his Couture GI Foundation. It was a weekend of paintball games and Mixed Martial Arts fighting, it was successful beyond any of the promoter’s wildest dreams, and it came off with out a hitch.
You would have thought that the folks that put this event on had been doing it for years, everything ran as smooth as could be, but in reality this was the first year for this event. All those involved in the planning and execution of this event are to be commended for their exemplary work; they all really went above and beyond.
This was not an event that was immediately embraced when it was first pitched.
There was some fear that an event culminating with a mixed martial arts fighting program might bring the wrong type of crowd to Mesquite.
I have to admit that as I walked into the venue on that Saturday night, having never taken in an MMA affair previously, I had some misgivings about what type of crowd would gather.
Would this be a collection of about a thousand thugs all looking to brawl at the first opportunity?
I had no idea, but I am sorry to say that the thought did cross my mind.
Just goes to show you how wrong our preconceptions can be at times. The crowd was great.
They were enthusiastic to be sure, but they were not overly rowdy, just very appreciative of the action that was taking place in the ring.
And afterwards, they were even better.
I spoke at great length a couple of times during the past week to Tim Andrus, one of the organizers of the charity weekend and he explained to me that they had taken a look at some of the UFC events held in Vegas, and they saw that one of the things they were doing with great success was inviting the crowd to a nightclub after the fight to hang out with some of the fighters.
They implemented this plan with an after party in the showroom of the CasaBlanca, and don’t you know the casino has to be happy they did.
Fight fans flocked to the showroom for the party and throngs of them spilled into the casino. And there was not a hint of trouble. It was a boon to the CasaBlanca I am sure.
It is another feather in the cap of a city that seems to love to host charity events.
And the Couture GI Foundation reaped some pretty significant rewards. Andrus told me that nearly a week later, they are still getting donations.
He told me that he and some of his paintball buddies (Andrus is the owner of A Pirates Paradise paintball park) to do a promo in Las Vegas to introduce the new “Call Of Duty” video game that will be released Nov. 10. Everybody wins here as another $1,000 was donated to the GI Foundation as a result of Andrus and company agreeing to the promo.
This is all really fine work and my hat is off to all of you.
Andrus also said that the e-mails are flooding in the aftermath of the Extreme Weekend, and from the looks of it, next year’s event could be ever so much bigger.
For those of you who might have missed the activities I feel for you because you missed a great show. And if, like me, you were a little worried about the “element”.
I understand, but you have nothing to worry about, it was great family fun.
Next year WHEN they do this again, we need to really turn out in force.
I know we are all hurting a little bit and we are being asked to give in more directions than ever. But this is a cause that you should pay attention to as 100% of the proceeds go to help veterans and their families.
Give a little to those who risked it all.
And you will have a great time while you’re at it.