MMA with heart – Fighters Feeding Families

Dustin West, Jeff Hobbs, and the Integrated Martial Arts Team, along with some of the families of the Ronald McDonald House.

Professional MMA fighter Dustin West, along with his coach Ed Clay of Nashville MMA and his manager Jeff Hobbs, started “Fighters Feeding Families.” They created the organization as a way for fighters, coaches, and those involved with MMA, to give back to their community.

Specifically, “Fighters Feeding Families” cooks and provides food for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Nashville, Tenn. The Ronald McDonald House is a charity whose mission is “to ‘keep families close’ by providing essential resources and a ‘home away from home’ for families of critically ill children receiving inpatient or outpatient medical care at Nashville area hospitals.

West has been a long time supporter of the Ronald McDonald House, even prior to his involvement in MMA.

“The Ronald McDonald House has been a special place to me long before I started fighting. It’s a home away from home to so many families who have very sick children in the hospital. Some of these families have come from far away to be by their child’s side while they go through surgeries and treatments. Without the help of the Ronald McDonald House, most of them would not be able to afford to stay in our city, much less afford to eat a hot meal every night.”

When West, a Nashville native, moved back home from a two year stint in Las Vegas, one of his first orders of business was to get back to the Ronald McDonald House and pick up where he left off.

“When I moved back to Nashville in early December, I knew right away that I needed to get back to the Ronald McDonald House during the holiday season. It just kind of hit me – why not get the gyms and fighters in Nashville involved too? I wanted the city of Nashville to see that when people say a fighter ‘has heart’, it doesn’t just mean in the ring.”

West talked with his coach and fellow fighters about his idea of “Fighters Feeding Families” and they loved the idea. A couple of weeks ago, on Dec. 30, 2009, the group put their plan into action. They got together, cooked, and prepared dinner for several families who had traveled to Nashville to be close to their children who were receiving medical treatment at local hospitals. West talked about that night,

“My manager first called my new coach, Ed Clay and it only took about one second for him to say yes. He was on board immediately and provided me with the help I needed to make it happen. After that, I called my friends at Integrated Mixed Martial Arts and without hesitation, they sent the troops! This may have been my idea, but I could have never pulled this great night off without the help of those guys. IMA really stepped up. We were able to get in there and cook a wonderful dinner to over 30 people and provide them with some much needed fun and conversation.”

It is great to see the MMA community coming together to make a positive impact on people’s lives. MMA still has problems with public perception, and it is stories like these, it is people like Dustin West and “Fighters Feeding Families” that are step-by-step changing the way our sport is perceived.

To learn more about Ronald McDonald House Charities visit their website at www.rmhc.org and to learn more about Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville visit their website at www.rmhcnashville.com.

By: Jack Bratcher / Jeff Hobbs