Wrestling for a Cure raised more than $10,000 in its first season.

Wrestlers tag team to beat cancer

One small community of wrestlers in Springfield, Ill., is showing that their hearts are bigger than their muscles, and they’re putting them to good use raising funds for St. Jude.

 

At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, families and patients often describe their diagnosis and treatment for cancer as a fight. Semi-pro wrestler and St. Jude Partner In Hope® Jason Willhite believes it’s only appropriate, then, to raise money for St. Jude by doing something he knows and loves: wrestling.

In the summer of 2017, Willhite, of Springfield, Ill., made the decision to turn 16 years of wrestling experience into a St. Jude fundraising opportunity and raise $1,000 with an event dubbed “Wrestling for a Cure.”

As it turns out, wrestlers and their fans have pretty big hearts and the response was overwhelming. One show at South Fork High School in Kincaid, Ill., raised more than $10,000 from ticket sales and several smaller fundraising events leading up to the main event.

Jason Willhite, far right, and partner Tim Givens, of Wrestling for a Cure, visit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Affiliate Clinic in Peoria, Ill.

Jason Willhite, right, and partner Tim Givens, left, of Wrestling for a Cure, visit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Affiliate Clinic in Peoria, Ill. 

Thanks to generous supporters such as these, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

A former U.S. Marine, Willhite began wrestling following the end of his military service in 1999. After years on the semi-professional circuit throughout the Midwest, Willhite wasn’t completely surprised by the response to Wrestling for a Cure.

Wrestling for a Cure is embraced by the wrestling community, because it shows that we’re not all big jocks who don’t care. And some of the guys have bigger hearts than muscles.

Jason Willhite, Wrestling for a Cure founder and St. Jude Partner In Hope

Willhite’s journey to become a St. Jude monthly donor and fundraiser began five years ago while he worked making deliveries for FedEx and listened to a St. Jude radiothon. Growing up in his southern Illinois community, Willhite had always heard of St. Jude, but never knew “how much the hospital went out of their way to help the families of the children fighting childhood cancer.”

He was deeply moved by what he heard and four years ago became a monthly donor to St. Jude through the St. Jude Partner In Hope program, contributing $25 per month. The St. Jude Partner In Hope program includes nearly 950,000 active donors and has raised almost $106 million in the last year."

Semi-professional wrestler Jason Willhite, left, became a St. Jude Partner In Hope after hearing stories of hope from St. Jude families on his local radio station, 99.7 The Mix.

Semi-professional wrestler Jason Willhite, left, became a St. Jude Partner In Hope after hearing stories of hope from St. Jude families on his local radio station.

That is why I’m doing the benefit shows and fundraising events for St. Jude, to help those who continue to fight and beat this nasty disease.

Jason Willhite, reflecting on childhood cancer

Although two of his younger cousins survived battles with childhood cancer, he said he can’t imagine being a parent and having a doctor tell him his child has cancer. “Being a father myself, I figured I could somehow save money and be able to make a monthly donation to help out St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” he said.

He has ambitions to take the event to wrestlers and wrestling fans nationwide.

 

Help give hope to kids who are fighting life-threatening illnesses. Become a Partner In Hope monthly donor today.

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