sistaff
Saturday November 12th, 2011

The word “impact” has two meanings for manager Tom Call and his stable of fighters.

Call’s Impact Fight Management has recently launched Impact Fight Charities, which hopes to raise money for a variety of worthy causes each time one if its fighters steps into the cage.

Fighters donating to charities is nothing new, but Call and his Impact team have found a unique way to give back. Fighters will choose a local charity based in the area they’ll be competing in to “leave where we came to a little better,” said Call.

“We’re going into each of these cities and drawing a lot of money out with sponsorships and other avenues,” said Call. “With a little shift in effort, we thought we could leave something behind, kind of like planting a tree after you’ve knocked one down.”

Call, whose been affiliated with mixed martial arts in some capacity since 1998, said his fighters are all free to donate to the charity of their choice.

“Generally, I want it to be something they’re passionate about,” said Call, “but we all agreed that we wanted to target the ‘grassroot’ charities, the ones that usually aren’t as heavily funded.”

In October, Tyson Griffin, who fought at UFC 138 in Las Vegas, raised $3,000 for Boys Town Nevada, an organization that offers mentoring and positive activities for troubled youth.

“Growing up my parents got locked up and I was in foster care for a little bit and I could really relate to those kids and understand what they’re going through and what the situation is,” said Griffin, who was introduced to the organization through the UFC’s community outreach programs.

Bantamweight Michael McDonald (13-1), who faces Alex Soto at UFC 139 next Saturday in San Jose, Calif., needn’t look any further than his manager Call to find his cause: the Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco.

In 2000, Call’s second daughter was born prematurely at 27 weeks and weighed no more than a pound. Her tiny lungs caused breathing issues from the onset and she underwent heart surgery at only three days old.

Call’s wife also remained hospitalized with complications.

“We were totally unprepared for this,” said Call. “We lived an hour and a half from the hospital and had two other children to care for.”

The Ronald McDonald House, with 305 locations in 52 countries, offers temporary housing for families with children who have serious medical crises that require hospitalization. 

The San Francisco house gave Call and his two children a room in their dorms located next to the University of California Medical Center. They were provided with a shared living room area and kitchen with other families. Volunteers cooked meals, usually reminding the parents to eat. Most importantly, Call was close to his wife and daughter as both of them fought for their lives.

Call and his family stayed at the house for three months, then moved to an apartment provided by the organization for another three months for $5 a day. Though she was eventually able to go home, Call’s daughter passed away unexpectedly at seven months.

“It’s the kind of thing where I thought that if I ever got out with my sanity, I wanted to give back,” said Call, whose two children are now 18 and 20 years old.

McDonald said Call’s story really hit home. The UFC’s youngest competitor watched his auto-mechanic father and his mother, a housecleaner, work 15-hour days and still slide into debt to make sure Michael and his two brothers were well provided for.

“I have a heart for hardworking people who don’t have a lot and those are just the type of families the Ronald McDonald House Foundation try to reach out to,” said McDonald. “Families who don’t have insurance, parents who are sleeping in their cars to be close to their kids. Their very next day might be their last and all these kids want is their family with them.”

McDonald, who used the $55,000 fight of the night bonus he earned at UFC Fight Night 24 last March to knock out his parent’s debt completely, is raffling off two tickets to his UFC 139 fight. The entry price is $25, with all funds raised sent to the San Francisco Ronald McDonald house.

After McDonald, eight of Call’s mixed amateur and pro fighters will jointly select a cause in the Santa Rosa, Calif., area in anticipation of their bouts for Caged Combat in March.

For Call, Impact Charities is the fulfillment of a promise he made to himself 11 years ago, but he knows his fighters will also benefit from the program.

“I know they’ll have a sense of pride when they see that others less fortunate can benefit from their success,” said Call.

To enter McDonald’s raffle or donate to his cause, go to maydaymcdonald.com

--Loretta Hunt

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