Six year-old Long Islander Isaiah Bird is one of New York's top wrestlers in his age group. It just so happens that he is also homeless and was born with no legs.
Back in May, News 12 Long Island produced a stirring video which told Bird's story. Now Newsday.com reports that UFC middleweight champion and Long Island native Chris Weidman hosted a fundraiser with the goal of moving Bird and his family into their own apartment.
"Who wouldn't want to help a kid out like that?" Weidman said. "Anything I can do for a local wrestler, especially a kid who's young and struggling, I was down."
Weidman will host a fundraiser Sunday at his gym in Garden City, with all proceeds going to help Isaiah and his family. Rodriguez said they hope to move the boy's family into a studio apartment in Long Beach by the end of June.
The event at Power MMA on 1 Commercial Ave. begins at noon with an open workout and follow-up question-and-answer session with Weidman. The fundraiser (donations start at $5) also includes youth and teen wrestling seminars and a meet-and-greet with UFC fighters Aljamain Sterling (Uniondale), Al Iaquinta (Wantagh), Eddie Gordon (Freeport), Gian Villante (Levittown) and Pete Sell (Bay Shore).
And, of course, Isaiah Bird. [via Newsday.com]
The fundraiser took place yesterday (June 1, 2014). Hopefully it succeeded in providing the Birds with the means of moving into their own home.
It seems that the Long Island wrestling community is providing Bird with a generous amount of support, and the boy could not have chosen a better sport to suit him. Wrestling has a long history of providing disabled athletes with a means of competing and excelling at extremely high levels. Arizona State's Anthony Robles won a 2011 NCAA Division I wrestling title despite having only one leg, Nick Ackerman of Simpson College, with no legs below his knees, shared the 2001 Hodge Trophy with Cael Sanderson after winning an NCAA Division III championship and Rohan Murphy, who has no legs whatsoever, earned three varsity letters at Penn State in the early part of the century.
If Bird maintains his love and enthusiasm for wrestling, then he potentially can achieve great things in the sport.