A new tradition in Jackson returns this weekend after a year hiatus as Black Tie and Boxing is set to happen on Saturday at the Carl Perkins Civic Center.
Black Tie and Boxing is an annual fundraiser set up with all funds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), which is funding research looking for a cure for the disease, that’s typically diagnosed during a child’s early toddler years and warrants a constant vigilance about the child’s blood sugar levels.
“One day in 2016, a few of us sat down at lunch to talk about something we could do to raise money for JDRF, and we wanted to do something different,” said Rachel Ryan, coordinator for Black Tie and Boxing.
Ryan credited Ronnie and Susan Morris for wanting to do something for diabetes research after one of their son’s friends spent the night at their house, and the parents informed them of what their son regarding blood sugar checks during the night.
“You have to maintain a watch on blood sugar at all times, and all of our blood sugar tends to drop at night while we’re asleep,” Ryan said. “And many parents will set their alarm for 2 am or sometime in the wee hours of the morning so they can get up and check their child’s blood sugar to make sure it’s not getting too low before they wake up.
“Ronnie and Susan did this for their son’s friend and thought, ‘How can someone do this every night?’ And they wanted to do something about it. And they were the ones that brought us the idea for Black Tie and Boxing.”
It turns out they’d seen a similar event in Texas and thought it could work in Jackson, and in January of 2017, they tried it with the inaugural event that had 24 tables and raised $60,000.
The event, which is an event in which guests dress in formal attire to watch a full card of mixed martial arts bouts, has grown every year to the point the organizers have a goal of $200,000 raised this year.
The group was able to still raise more than $20,000 last year despite not having an event because of COVID-19 restrictions.
One thing that helps the fundraising is there are a few bouts each year in which local people with little to no experience in MMA will raise funds as they train to fight. These fighters are the Black Tie Fight Club.
“Our first four fights on Saturday are our Black Tie Fight Club fighters,” Ryan said. “And I know they’ve been working hard and looking to have fun and compete and see what happens when they get in the cage.
“Together, they’ve raised over $17,000 so far.”
Ryan said the funding for research is working because of a recent case reported in which a clinical trial involving stem cells appears to have almost cured a patient’s type 1 diabetes in New York.
“And that’s why we’re doing this, to help fund the research to hopefully find a cure to this awful disease,” Ryan said. “This is a great event that people enjoy and they help raise money for a great cause at the same time.”
Reach Brandon Shields at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 731-425-9751. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram at editorbrandon.