Philanthropist’s MMA passion raises funds for children
January 29, 2020
Physician, philanthropist and former mixed martial artist has taken his passion for combat sports and turned it into a fundraising event for the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre.
Dr. Faisal Rehman, nephrologist at University Hospital – London Health Sciences Centre, has partnered with the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre to help vulnerable children and families in the London area.
Rehman organizes ‘The Showdown in the Downtown,’ a combat-sport event that has raised $2.2 million dollars for not-for-profit organizations. Over the last four years, the showdown has raised $80,000 for the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre.
“It’s so cool being involved with the well-being of children,” said Rehman. “It’s extremely rewarding to watch this Centre grow.”
‘The Showdown in the Downtown’ started in 2007 when Rehman was asked to lead a fundraising effort for another of his passions – kidney research. As a former mixed martial artist and fan of combat sports, he decided to organize a fundraiser around these activities.
In the last decade, fans have watched Canada vs. USA and Canada vs. Ireland amateur boxing contests as well as professional kick-boxing and mixed martial arts matches.
The first-event was a success, raising $107,000 for kidney research. Each year, the event continued to raise more money, which allowed Rehman and his team to increase the number of organizations they could assist.
“Kidney research is important and I’m passionate about funding it but I also wanted to see us do more for our local community,” said Rehman.
In particular, he wanted to help those in the city who were experiencing poverty, social isolation and abuse.
Rehman supports the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre because it’s dedicated to research and it’s located in the Merrymount Family Support Crisis Centre.
Merrymount provides a wide-range of crisis, respite, prevention and early intervention mental health services and programs to strengthen children and their families across Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford counties.
“I also admired what they were doing at Merrymount because I knew children who were facing social isolation were getting wonderful care.”
The Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre helps set up children and families for success through supporting early childhood research and practice in a real-world setting.
“The only way to look at how children think and how they absorb bad news and to get them to overcome issues that they’re facing is through research,” said Rehman.
Rehman is proud to be associated with the Centre. He said it’s been extremely rewarding to watch the Centre grow and see its research help children and families. What’s more, he’s impressed with the Centre’s Director, Professor Karen Bax’s passion for helping children and he’s pleased that graduate students are also conducting research.
“We only live once and you want to try to have a positive impact on society,” said Rehman. “Hopefully we can keep it going. I’m hoping we can continue it forever.”