Back in 2010 I was a competitive saber fencer on both the local and national circuit. I was also working at the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital as a volunteer Hospital Liaison and had been involved with them even as a little kid (my sister and I build shadow boxes for a collaborative mural in the hospital when it was first being built; we also sold lemonade on our front lawn and raised $200 over a few days). While I was proud of the work me and my family had done for them to that point, I wanted to find a better way to raise more money for their work. That's when I began to think that maybe there was a way to combine the sport I loved with the causes I cared about.
Being on the east coast gave me abundant opportunities to compete at many tournaments. And from all the times I competed, I noticed that tournaments had a lot of competitors and registration fees ranging from $20 for local tournaments all the way up to $200+ for national events. I then thought that if you held a strong fencing event with high turnout and had all the registration fees donated for charity, we could raise a lot of money for the Children's Hospital.
That's when I decided to organize (with a lot of support of my family and friends) the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital Saber Open which had an amazing turnout and support from even Olympic athletes Jeff Spear and Tim Morehouse. Our efforts became dormant for the next years until 2019 as I focused on school, NCAA fencing, the start of my career and cross-country transition to Colorado. When I began fencing at Denver Fencing Center I saw the potential to start back up the organization. With their support we held the Firefly Fencing Open for Firefly Autism in 2019 and are now working on raising money for the Gift of Hope.
During the pandemic we realized that while one tournament can be promoted and successful, there was a cap on how much you could fundraise with the realities of things like local athlete populations and the effectiveness of local advertising campaigns. But by instead hosting both Colorado local and national satellite events across the country, we could exponentially increase the money we raise each year for charity. We thus took our organization to the next level and began outreaching to different clubs and colleges across the country; reached out to all the athletes, coaches, and active community members we could and began advertising our work and idea.
We are now working to expand We are proud to say that our efforts to grow have been working and only look to continue to grow with the amazing support of the community and look forward to expanding it with you!
Each year (January 1st - December 31st) we pick a different charity to support through suggestions provided by the sports community regarding causes they are the most passionate about and that can do the most with the money raised for them. We then work with different clubs/colleges to help them organize events of their choosing. We work with them to organize their events and provide the medals, support advertising, and anything else we can do to help.
Once the event is held and the registration fees/charge of admittance are collected and subtract payment for referees and other needed logistics, the remainder is then sent directly to the charity. The club/college in return receive a charitable act tax form from the charity to submit during your next tax filing for reimbursement.
The Maria Fareri Children's Hospital Saber Open raised money for the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital "Toys for Tots" program which provides toys for sick children without the financial means; during the holiday season; or during times of needed support. We raised $2,500 in 2010 and in 2011 we raised $3,500 respectively. The tournament was held at Manhattan Fencing Center in NYC with the support of the community and Olympians Jeff Spear and Tim Morehouse.
The Firefly Fencing Open raised money for Firefly Autism which provides clinical services to children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We raised $3,600 from the event held at Denver Fencing Center.
The Mandel Sporting Events: Colorado Cup #4 raised money for The Gift of Hope which provides women going through breast cancer treatment with funds to pay their life expenses so they don't have to choose between paying their bills and receiving treatment. We raised $2,315 from the event and have the Mandel Sporting Events: Ryan Donos Memorial 2022 (Phoenix Fencing Academy - AZ), Morris Cup Veteran Series 2 (Morris Fencing Club - NJ), and several other events in the works with clubs/colleges coming later this year as well.