Riverside Youth Judo Club Raises $17,500 at Fight for the Cure

by Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – The judo community came together in Riverside, Calif. over the weekend to raise $17,500 to support families impacted by cancer throughout the Inland Empire.

More than 200 women and girls participated in the Fight for the Cure Women’s Judo Tournament which was held at Norte Vista High School. The charity event was held for the fifth year and has raised more than $62,000 for The Pink Ribbon Place – a cancer resource center in Riverside that provides counseling services and support groups to individuals diagnosed with cancer as well as their families and caregivers. The Pink Place also runs strength rebuilding classes and manages an American Cancer Society wig bank as well as a bra bank that offers breast prosthesis and mastectomy bras.

“We’re kind of a community service club because we’re a Police Activities League club. So all of our tournaments we run for charity. We knew we wanted to do a women’s tournament. We also wanted to do something that impacted the local community and right in our own backyard we have the Pink Ribbon Place,” said Brian Money (Riverside, Calif.), program director for Riverside Youth Judo which hosts the annual event. “I started reaching out to people in Riverside and realized how many folks have been impacted by breast and ovarian cancer and had gone and used services at the Pink Ribbon Place. It was more than just a place to get wigs and prosthetics and things like that. I came to find out that they offer just outstanding counseling services. Some of my friends who went there said it was remarkable and really helped them cope.”

The first Fight for the Cure tournament was held in 2016 and raised $5,000 for The Pink Ribbon Place.

“Right off the top of my head, I can name 25 people I know personally really well who have gone to The Pink Ribbon Place and have nothing but positive things to say,” Money said. “We started off really small in 2016 and each year got more and more involvement and more people getting involved and more donation money.”

The day began with a Clinic for a Cause – a 90-minute session led by 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marti Malloy (Long Beach, Calif. / NYAC / San Jose State University), 2020 Olympian Nina Cutro-Kelly (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo) and 1984 World Champion AnnMaria De Mars (Santa Monica, Calif.) The clinic free to all tournament participants and was open to both men and women with the $25 clinic entry donation for each participant being donated directly to The Pink Place.

“Honestly, I’d like to say I called and begged these ladies to show up, but they really all volunteered and asked what they could do to help,” Money said. “Annmaria’s always been really supportive, Marti as well. This was Nina’s first time, but she was really a big hit. You could see in everyone’s eyes. Everyone was starstruck by these amazing women.”

Malloy has served as a clinician for the tournament since 2018 and has seen Fight for the Cure grow over the last four years both in terms of size as well as funds raised for The Pink Ribbon Place.

"I have loved being involved with the Fight for the Cure Judo Tournament. Brian Money and Riverside Judo do an amazing job fostering an inclusive, positive, and exciting atmosphere while supporting an important cause,” the two-time Olympian said. “It warms my heart to be able to come together with other judoka in support of something that raises awareness, unites so many who have been impacted by cancer, and does some real good in the world.”

In addition to being the largest USA Judo club in the nation, Riverside Judo also has a strong adaptive judo program with more than 150 special needs athletes. Money noted that his athletes enjoyed getting a chance to meet Cutro-Kelly who, in addition to being a 2020 Olympian, also won the Deaflympics for athletes who are deaf or hard of hearing earlier this year.

That was amazing for my players to see someone like that who’s so successful and so talented and it let them know that anything is possible,” Money said. “I have full deaf players among my adaptive players. To have her there, it meant a lot to those kids and families.”

In addition to traditional and adaptive judo categories, the tournament also held a mom’s judo event which was introduced for the first time in 2019.

We said ‘Look at all these moms who come in loyally every class and watch their kids and take them to and from’ and thought wouldn’t it be great to get them involved? So we thought it would be fun to get moms on the mat and it was a blast when we did it in 2019,” said Money whose club of nearly 400 students has 42% female members. “We used an adaptive system where they start on the ground in newaza and all of the scoring is just pins. They’re warriors. Some of these moms were tremendous athletes back in their day. I had a professional roller derby mom and college level basketball players and track stars and water polo players out there and they loved it.”

The tournament awarded gold, silver and two bronze medals in each event with each medal including the name of a woman who had breast or ovarian cancer

“I have a name on every single one of our medals that’s handed out that’s either a survivor of breast or ovarian cancer or someone who’s passed. We put it out there and asked for names and competitors and people in the club all put them in. In our police department, my partner is a breast cancer survivor. One of my old friends passed away from breast cancer about five years ago, so her name is on a medal,” Money said. “I try to stop kids as they’re walking by and look at their medal and most of the names I recognize and try and I tell them ‘this is my friend and this is what she was like’ to help the kids understand really what it is we’re doing.”

Although the dates have not been set for the 2023 Fight for the Cure, Money is already working on plans to hold the sixth edition of the tournament on a Sunday in October next year.

Special thanks to the Riverside Police Foundation, Richardson’s RV, Elliot’s for Pets, Applebee’s Riverside, Blumenthal Law Offices and the Law Office of Saku E. Ethir for their support of Fight for the Cure.

Fight for the Cure

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