Mania Club’s Fundraising Must Go On
In the fall of 2015, Ashontay Owens and Gary Fonseca became friends online through a shared love of WWE. In April 2016, they decided to host a small tailgate outside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, prior to WrestleMania 32. They didn’t have big expectations, but after being joined by about 250 other attendees and raising more than $3,000, they knew they had started something with potential. They decided to use the money to support Connor’s Cure, and Mania Club was born.
Their passion for WWE, and just as importantly, raising money to support pediatric cancer research via Connor’s Cure, is evident. “Our group is unlike any other,” said Owens. “The more than 4,000 members of Mania Club have pledged to be the impetus of crowdfunding for Connor’s Cure to further the V Foundation’s mission and vision.”
The tailgate event and fundraising have continued to grow. In 2020, the group was on a path to its biggest year ever, having set a goal of raising $20,000. Then, the world changed. WrestleMania 36 would be held, but there would be no crowd, which meant there would be no tailgate. That didn’t stop Mania Club from pushing on.
“We were planning a tailgate with an expected attendance of close to 5,000 people,” said Owens. “But cancer doesn’t stop, so Mania Club won’t stop.”
Like so many others forced to change plans in the past month, Owens and Fonseca instead took its gathering online, hosting a Zoom conference for their members to gather together and watch WrestleMania 36. They also hosted a fun competition among their members, asking fans to “cut a promo” to determine who was WWE Superstar Nia Jax’s biggest fan. The kicker? The group even got Jax to be a judge in the contest! That additional fundraising effort pushed Mania Club past the $25,000 raised mark for the year.
“It was truly amazing seeing everyone come together for a common purpose, if only for a couple hours,” said Owens.
Despite everything going on in our world, Mania Club never stopped pushing forward to reach their fundraising goal of $20,000. Members want to continue to honor Connor Michalek and know the research being funded through Connor’s Cure is saving more lives of kids battling cancer. But there was one other motivating factor that kept them going during this year’s unusual circumstances.
“During WWE’s WrestleMania Kid Superstar reveal in 2019, we made a promise to Stephanie McMahon and Roman Reigns that we would raise $20,000 in 2020,” said Owens. “And well, we didn’t want to be liars!”