Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Social Responsibility: Our Duty

By Daniel Kelly

             In all communities across the United States, we live each day through affiliation.  What I mean by this is that we affiliate ourselves with organizations, subjects, objects, actions, and people in order to equate some sort of purpose or personal fulfillment to our lives.  The problem with this is that many people falsely represent their affiliations.  We all know people that are guilty of this: you, me, and everyone you know.  We cannot be true to our affiliations at all times.  Human beings by nature become exhausted and run down, and even the most disciplined individuals are capable of losing focus; however, it is better to be in that category than people that do nothing.  I will provide you with some examples of people in our great sport that are true to their affiliations. 

My first individual is a man by the name of Jason Bross.  Jason is the creator of a foundation called “Pinning Down Autism”.  He has received national attention within the wrestling community and also beyond the mat.  I think everyone can agree that what Jason does for the autism community, as well as the wrestling community, is amazing.  Jason and his family grapple with autism every single day.  Jason manages organizing events for his foundation, working to provide for his family, and on top of that putting aside time to coach wrestling.  Jason is a leader.  He leads by example, and asks for nothing in return.  The best part about Jason is that he can talk about wrestling for hours, and his passion can be seen as his eyes widen while telling stories of great wrestlers past and present.  The sport of wrestling, as well as our society, needs more people like Jason Bross. 

My second individual is a man named Justin McLennan.  Justin is a former standout wrestler from nationally renowned wrestling powerhouse Easton High School.  He comes from an area rich in wrestling history and tradition.  Justin has recently started building a youth wrestling program at Excellence Boys, an all-boys charter school in Brooklyn, NY.  Wrestling is now an after-school program for 2nd and 3rd graders.  I had the pleasure of speaking with Justin about his youth program.  “We started wrestling in February, currently using tumbling mats, with our next step to get our own mats.  The kids love it and are begging for more mat time constantly.  Just about every kid in the school wants to be on the team.  It’s got a lot of potential if we can get the right support to grow.”  Justin’s program has generated a lot of buzz in the local wrestling community, and he has even started bringing his kids to the Beat the Streets Manhattan Training Center to provide more opportunities for his kids to get more mat time.  To learn more about Justin’s program, please visit http://excellencewrestling.weebly.com .

My third individual that I would like to mention is a man by the name of Andy Weaver.  Andy hails from a tightly knit wrestling community in Nazareth, PA.  I have met many people that are passionate about their local high school sports programs over the years, but Andy Weaver takes it to another level.  I have never met someone who exhibits the passion that Andy does about their local community.  Back in the early 2000’s when I was in high school I remember seeing Andy at the District XI Wrestling Championships at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, PA.  In February of 2014 I attended the District XI Wrestling Championships for the first time in years, and I saw Andy there still after all these years.  He collected my ticket at the front door with a smile so wide you could hang your jacket on it.  He started a web site that has thousands and thousands of local followers and readers:  www.nazarethsports.net .   He has touched the lives of so many people, and he has even inspired me to be more proactive and contribute to my local community in New York City.  If everyone were more like “The Weave”, as he is nicknamed by people in the Nazareth community, the world would be a much better place.  Do you believe in The Weave?  I surely do.

I hope that my article can inspire even just a handful of my readers to be more proactive and go out and pursue ways to further help their local communities through wrestling and beyond.  It is important to contribute to the sustainability of your community by giving back, and the individuals mentioned in my article go above and beyond the call of duty.  Ask yourself:  What have you done lately to help your community?