LAS VEGAS – In the 115-degree heat of Las Vegas, the snow cone truck parked on Fremont Street probably looked like a mirage.
But for 100 at-risk kids from Boys Town Nevada, it was more of an oasis, as the UFC teamed up with online shoe retailer Zappos to hold a community event as part of the fight promotion’s “Fight Week.”
The icy treats were a big hit, of course, but every kid also got a new pair of shoes. Among others, Zappos has teamed up with the West Coast Basketball Conference to give shoes to needy kids.
The UFC also gave out free merchandise at the event.
“It’s a great message about the community giving back, Boys Town Nevada rep Howard Olshansky told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Founded in 1917, Boys Town is a not-for-profit organization that cares for children with emotional and physical problems and advocates for change in the current child care system.
UFC fighters Phil Davis, Luke Rockhold, Forrest Griffin, Benson Henderson, Carlos Condit, Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Daniel Cormier attended the event and put kids through a mini-workout. Afterward, they answered questions, took pictures and signed autographs.
UFC co-COO Lawrence Epstein said the promotion has worked with Boys Town almost since parent company Zuffa took control of the company in 2001. He declined to put a number on the money contributed to the charitable organization, but said Zuffa has donated 10s of millions of dollars to good causes over the years.
“It’s important to write checks, but it’s also great to give kids an experience that they’re going to remember forever,” he said. “I was really proud of our guys. There’s so much controversy right now about the moral fabric of athletes, and our guys are awesome. Everybody makes mistakes, but we’re proud of our fighters, and frankly, they’re our best representatives.”
On why contributing to organizations like Boys Town is an important part of Zuffa’s business, Epstein, said, “This is what real institutions do. They give back.”
International Fight Week currently is underway with a UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. It culminates with Saturday’s UFC 162, which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena and features a middleweight title tilt between champ Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman.
For the latest on UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Lawrence Epstein)