By VIDAL SERFATY
On Saturday May 31, young martial artists from the area flocked to Rhodes’ Kajukenbo in New Rochelle as the dojo held its annual fundraiser for the St. Jude Children’s Fund.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sifu Dusty Rhodes’ students and other children participated in a wide variety of activities to raise money for cancer research.
Those who attended had the opportunity to learn from many different instructors and participate in different kinds of workouts, including jiu-jitsu. Other events included a strongman demonstration, in which attendees were wowed by a man performing feats of strength on a bed of nails. Children also participated in games such as dodgeball and tug-of-war.
There was also a bake sale that added to the donations.
This is Rhodes’ fifth year running this fundraiser and he admits he is still learning how to maximize donations. Rhodes mentioned how it is a “learning experience” and “tough to get people to donate.”
“It’s tough going door-to-door, store-to-store asking for donations.” Rhodes said.
He reached out to several local business and private citizens for donations, including MMA fighters and local friends who put up tents during the event. Rhodes’ friends also helped with bake sales and donations.
Rhodes mentioned that people all over New Rochelle contribute in their own ways with one local business even helping to blow up balloons for the event. Others donated MMA tickets that were raffled off. Rhodes said for the last couple of years some of his biggest donations have come from Costco and Domino’s.
Rhodes said so far, $4,000 dollars have come in from the event.
Rhodes first became interested in working on a fundraiser after seeing a St. Jude commercial on TV. The commercial had a big influence on him and he has always helped people. Previously, he worked with the Special Olympics for a number of years before forming this St. Jude fundraiser.
When he first decided to help St. Jude, Rhodes did not know anyone he could contact, but still wanted to help. After five years of holding this fundraiser, Rhodes has raised north of $19,000 and continues to receive checks and donations. All the money St. Jude receives is from donations and 100 percent of the money goes toward research and helping the children.
Rhodes has visited St. Jude hospital many times, calling it “bittersweet.”
“It’s sad, but a good learning experience,” he said.
Rhodes wants his students to understand what the children in the hospital go through.
“We’re lucky,” he said. “I would tell my students to go home and look in the mirror and see how healthy they are.”