Belts and Blood: Houston MMA Gives Back

“Giving blood in and out of the cage” – Gerzan Chaw (Bushi Ban)

Written By: Barry Laminack

On Saturday September 3, 2011 the Houston MMA community came together from 10am -2pm at Paradigm Training Center to save lives. Fighters, fans and MMA personalities from all over the Houston MMA scene came together to donate blood and save lives.  The first annual Houston MMA Blood Drive was a partnership between and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (GCRBC).

A total of 73 people had RSVP’ed for the event, but truth be told you never know what kind of turnout you’re going to get from the Houston MMA community. This time around I have to say, I was very impressed with the response.

The official numbers provided to us from the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center are:

Total Donors: 38
Total Products: 44
Whole Blood: 22
Double Red Cell: 11
Deferral: 5

Fighters: 13
Title Holders: 4
Gyms: 10

To give you an idea of just how much the MMA scene stepped up; according to Patricia LeBlanc from the GCRBC the NATIONAL average for total product raised for a drive is 25. We almost DOUBLED THAT at 44! If I recall, for every unit donated 3 lives are saved. Congratulations Houston MMA, we just saved a bunch of lives!

This drive was not only important from the stand point that we saved lives, but given the fact that Fox 26 and Channel 11 both came out to cover the event really helped to paint the Houston MMA community in a positive light for the WHOLE CITY to see!

I want to take a moment and thank some of the people who helped make this all possible.

Marcia Ogasawar volunteered to help me put this blood drive together, but truth be told, I helped her, because she was the one who led the charge on this and deserves ALL of the credit for making such an amazing event happen. This was not an event that could just be thrown together. It took 4 solid month of work to pull this off. Marcia took the reins back in early May and stayed with it up until the last drop of blood was donated on Saturday.

If you RSVP’ed on Facebook, chances are Marcia got in contact with you about the blood drive. Do me a favor and send her a quick thank you via email (or hit her up on Facebook and let her know that she’s appreciated). This blood drive not only saved lives, but it gave the entire Houston MMA scene a positive spin and we all have Marcia and her tireless efforts to thank for making this happen!


A special thank you Reed Shelger and the entire crew at Paradigm Training Center. When we first started putting this together we didn’t think it would happen at all because in order for us to get the crew from the GCRBC that we thought we would need, the blood drive had to happen in a certain parts of town. One of the few gyms close enough that met all the requirements was Paradigm. It would have been really easy for them to say no (since it required them to basically shut down half the gym for the day) but with out hesitating Reed and crew said yes and essentially gave us what ever we (and the GCRBC) needed. Not only that but the entire Paradigm staff pitched in some way to help out. They not only provided some snacks, but worked the front door and Stayed extra late so we could get all the donors in and taken care of.


Another person who continues to step up every time TCD has a community event is Lisa Carnley, owner of Calliope’s Po Boy. Every since I was introduced to Lisa she has always stepped up and supported our community involvement efforts. When we wanted to feed the homeless, Lisa gave us ¾ of the food we needed, FOR FREE! When we wanted to meet before our Race for the Cure event last October, Lisa opened up early for us on a Saturday. When we needed a place to hold our Houston Muay Thai Council meetings, Lisa paid her staff out of her own pocket to open up her restaurant for us on a Sunday.

This time around, Lisa woke up early on Saturday, and by herself made enough po-boys and hush puppies to feed a small army (and for the record, the hush puppies were off the charts good, just ask ANYONE who had one (or one dozen!)). Please do me a favor and if you are at or near downtown for lunch one day, please show some support to her and go have lunch at Calliope’s. Not only is the food absolutely DELISHES (I recommend the shrimp po-boy and shrimp chips) but you’ll be giving back to one of the businesses who give so much to our MMA community!


I also want to thank Justin Trapp for his help in designing a kick ass poster for our blood drive. Justin has been super busy as of late (but that happens when you are one of the most in demand wedding photographers in the area), but still managed to find some time to whip something out for us on REALLY short notice.


A poster is no good if you can’t print it, and Cheeto Musquiz (father of MMA fighter Andrew Musquiz) and Bull Prints once again came through for and printed up all of our blood drive posters for FREE! Bull prints does amazing work. They do all of our flyers, banners, shorts patches and any other print work we need. Give ’em a try, you’ll LOVE the quality of work and fast turn around times.


Last but not least I want to take a moment and thank every single one of YOU who came out and donated. The above list of people did what they did so you could come out and save a life; and come out you did. I’ve only been active in the Houston MMA scene a couple of years, but Saturday’s blood drive was one of the proudest moments in my short time here. To see so many different people from different gyms come together was really great.

To me, the absolute coolest part was many of the fighters that showed up to donate on Saturday did so after having fought the night before at Cage Combat 5! Ask your self, would you feel like going to give blood the morning after you just had a war in the cage? To my absolute shock, not one, not two, but all three Cage Combat 5 title fight winners showed up and donated. Guillherme Moreira (Team Tooke), Joe Trevino (4oz Fight Club) and Colin Wright (Paradigm) were all there bright and early ready to give. Also in the house after having fought great fights the night before where Daniel Delgado (Paradigm) and Jose Martinez (Gracie Barra North Houston).

Here is the COMPLETE list of donors:


Enjoy the pics (there are more on our FACEBOOK PAGE)