For the second consecutive year, the Plant City-based jiu-jitsu gym was the highest fundraising team at the event.
Earlier in the month, several members of Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Plant City made their way to Winter Haven to take part in the Tap Cancer Out Central Florida BJJ Open.
Several of the 15 members that competed out of the gym – led by Sam Kimmel – took gold at the event. But perhaps more importantly than their individual athletic achievements, the gym finished as the top fundraising team for the second consecutive year dating back to 2019, not including 2020 due to COVID-19.
“This is a big thing for a small Plant City gym because this is all over Central Florida,” Kimmel said. “It was in Winter Haven but there are teams from Kissimmee, Orlando, all over Central Florida.”
In an event that featured hundreds of participants in the men’s, women’s and under-16 divisions from several gyms throughout the Central Florida region, Carlson Gracie Plant City not only had the top fundraising team, but the top fundraising individual as well in Rocco Musto. Together the team raised $12,200 for Tap Cancer Out, a non-profit organization that aims to motivate and empower the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community to raise awareness and funds for cancer fighting organizations.
“We just have some awesome students that wanted to be a part of this amazing cause,” Kimmel said. “Because they give 100 percent of the proceeds straight to like Alex’s Lemonade Stand [Foundation for Childhood Cancer] and stuff like that. They do great things so it was just a great benefit and a good thing to bring the team together for a good cause.”
In the past, Carlson Gracie Plant City has held events like car washes at local businesses to raise money, however this year the money was largely raised through social media efforts to rally donations.
“I’m just proud of my team,” Kimmel said. “We just have an awesome group of people, I mean, $12,000 is just an astronomical amount of money for such a small gym like ourselves. We have quite a few people but we’re smaller in comparison to some of the gyms that have hundreds of students and I think we did great.”
Carlson Gracie Plant City will now aim their sights at the next tournament, planning to participate in an event held by the North American Grappling Association in November.