My cousin Ian Overking and I have many things in common, but four things stand out:
- We have a deep sense of loyalty to our family.
- We both agree that Star Wars is the best film franchise ever.
- We hate cancer.
- We love the martial arts.
In the summer of 1985 our fathers took us to see the newly released Karate Kid film. It was during that movie that a love for martial arts was injected into our bloodstreams. We both began taking classes in whatever styles were available to us: Taekwondo, Hapkido, Aikido, Iaido, Kung Fu, Karate, Muay Thai…. Soon the martial arts became a life style for us, and the lessons we learned from training became lenses through which we viewed the world around us. Though we were separated by many miles, our passion for the fighting arts gave us a reason to stay connected, even during times when life threatened to drift us apart. We traded stories, techniques, and lessons learned every chance we got. Holidays and family gatherings became excuses to turn my aunt’s house into a sparing ring.
Now we are adults with families of our own, yet our passion for the martial arts have not decreased. Our journeys led to both of us taking up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Ian is currently a purple belt at Gracie UA in Columbus, OH, ad I have been a member of the Capital MMA & Elite Fitness community since 2016 .
Cancer has touched the lives of several members of our family. In October 2016, Ian lost his mother, Jean Snyder, to liver cancer. On New Year’s Day 2017 I lost my father, David Bevan, to leukemia. As painful as each of these loses were individually, they had a compounding effect on my mother, Joan Bevan. In less than three months she lost her twin sister and her husband to this terrible disease. Cancer struck once again in 2019, this time taking our Uncle Tom after a long and difficult fight. We both have many more friends who have faced off with cancer, and some are still in the fight.
Tap Cancer Out gave us a way to fight for those in the fight of their lives.
We have watched our loved ones, and those that support them, wage their own personal wars against cancer for years. We did what we could. We lent emotional support and words of encouragement. We offered comfort as often as possible. We stood by our friends and family who were forced to watch their loved ones endure cancer’s ever growing pain. But every experience left us wanting to do more. Tap Cancer Out gave us a way to fight for those in the fight of their lives.
Tap Cancer Out (TCO) is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to raising awareness and funds for cancer fighting organizations within the martial arts/grappling community. They’ve been around since 2011 and host some of the most philanthropic tournaments in the world. Please check them out here: https://tapcancerout.org/.
Ian and I have competed in a number of TCO’s tournaments. However, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the state-level tournaments that were TCO’s main source of fundraising would not be possible. As a result the Global Grappling Day was born.
The Global Grappling Day was developed so that even during the pandemic participants could support the TCO cause and raise awareness and money for cancer research. The goal was for each participant to launch a fundraising page and drive interest towards the event. On December 12th pairs of grapplers would roll for one hour straight to honor those who don’t have the luxury to stop fighting their battles against cancer.
In memory of the bravery and dignity with which our family and friends faced a terrible disease, and to honor everyone who is or has ever battled cancer, Ian and I partnered for this critical event. We publicized our upcoming match via Facebook and agreed to meet at the Capital MMA & Elite Fitness location in Lorton, VA.
For us, the preparation for the match was almost as fun as the event itself. We agreed that people should get a reward for their donations, so we decided to livestream our participation. That way the world could see that we were true to our word, family and friends could cheer us on, and we would have added motivation knowing that everyone would see us flounder if we didn’t take our train-up seriously. Besides, outside of hobo fight videos and the occasional little league game, where else would you get to watch two middle-aged dudes try to destroy each other’s joints and strangle one another into unconsciousness for an hour?
As COVID-19 prevented us from training in the usual manner, we had to adapt our preparation efforts. Ian was able to develop a cohort of exclusive and trusted training partners in Ohio to hone his skills and develop his strategies. As Northern Virginia was in near total lockdown, I prioritized class attendance, spent hours doing shoulder rolls and movement drills on my basement floor, and got to know my grappling dummy VERY well. As lifelong martial artists (and best friends) who have been sharing our training experiences with each other since we were 8, we were brimming with excitement to challenge ourselves and push each other to benefit such a worthy cause.
Due to the overall success of the event TCO has announced that the Global Grappling Day will become an annual event. You better believe that we’re planning to do it again.
In the end we raised over $3,000 for cancer research, and to support those struggling to become cancer-free. We were so proud of our family, friends, respective schools, and complete strangers who donated what they could during a time when so much was uncertain. Due to its overall success the TCO has announced that the Global Grappling Day will become an annual event. You better believe that we’re planning to do it again.
Tap Cancer Out’s beneficiary organizations in 2020 – 2021 include:
- Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
- American Brain Tumor Association
- American Cancer Society
- Breast Cancer Alliance
- Camp Sunshine
- Colon Cancer Alliance
- Conquer Cancer
- Cure Cervical Cancer
- First Descents
Article by Brian Bevan