Grappling for a Cause

Grappling for a Cause

On April 3, 2015 the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community met up at Gracie Humaita Winnipeg for a Good Friday Grapplethon. The fundraiser was in support of Mekena’s Journey, for a little girl who has been living in the hospital for over two months since February 7. Mekena was admitted with a tummy ache and the doctors found an 11 cm tumor on her kidney. Later, she was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, a type of cancer.

Mekena is 3.5 years old and her favourite things to do include dressing up in tutus, helping Lola make lumpia and empanadas, baking with mommy, telling funny stories, and bossing her Kuya Keaghan around. She has just finished her third round of chemotherapy and is hoping to be able to leave the hospital soon so she can get back to doing all her favourite things again at home before starting the next round. Her eight month course of treatment includes six cycles of chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy and immunotherapy.

A fundraising campaign has been started to help ease the financial burden on the family through this tough time. Mekena’s mother, Mary Horbas, had to
immediately stop working when this all began to be her full-time caregiver. She will not be able to return to work until at minimum the eight month course of treatment is complete, maybe even longer.

The first fundraising event was the Good Friday Grapplethon and it was a tremendous success raising $3700 for the family. A Grapplethon is an event where the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community joins together to train or “grapple” for a predetermined period of time to raise money for a good cause. Even Mekena was able to attend, the hospital granted her a pass and the family got to see her back to her normal self for the day, running around, playing and eating without being hooked up to her IV and tube feed.

Mekena’s Ninang, Rita Gribben, organized the event. “As far as I know, this was the first Jiu Jitsu Grapplethon ever held in Winnipeg. Everyone has been so supportive and generous. The prizes kept on piling up from local and international businesses and individuals. There were around 100 people from gyms all over Manitoba sharing the mats and even more there just to spectate and show their support. It was beyond anything I could have ever imagined, there was such a great energy in the space from people passionate about Jiu Jitsu, doing what they love and pulling together to help our little girl in need! It was absolutely inspirational, we truly have a great community and I look forward to more events like this in the future.”

To follow Mekena’s Journey and stay informed with her progress in the battle against cancer and any future events, you can like and share her Facebook page:

Secure online donations are being accepted through this link:
100% of the money raised goes to the family.