Ryan Bader donates portion of fight money to Brian Stann’s Hire Heroes USA
Times are tough all over, but UFC light heavyweight contender Ryan Bader always has his mind on helping those in need so for the fourth time in his last five fights he will donate a significant amount of his sponsorship money to a military organization supporting troops coming back from combat overseas.
Bader has worked with several military organizations in the past couple of years donating over $70,000 of his fight earnings to the Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation, the Armed Forces Foundation, Wounded Warriors, where he’s taken veterans on ‘all access UFC weekends’ out of his own pocket.
It’s something Bader has taken on as a passion project thanks to friends who have been in the military as well as several tours he’s been on, meeting troops and spending time with veterans, while he’s been in the UFC.
"The UFC has been heavily involved in working with the military and giving back to the military so over my six-plus years I’ve been here, I’ve got to meet a ton of veterans and been in those situations where I’m meeting the guys or guys are coming home wounded. For me, it’s just something that I’m passionate about," Bader told FOX Sports. "They do the stuff that 99-percent of people can’t do and they allow me to live my dreams."
The donation Bader will make this week stays a little closer to home.
I don’t want to be a frontrunner. If you have my support, you have my support 100-percent. I’m going to be there through good times or bad times and everything in between
— Ryan Bader
The No. 7 ranked light heavyweight, who faces Phil Davis at this weekend’s FOX UFC Fight Night card in Sweden, will donate his money this time around to former UFC middleweight Brian Stann’s Hire Heroes USA foundation.
Hire Heroes USA is a non-profit organization that was started by Stann several years ago after he served several tours of duty overseas and as he became more and more famous in his MMA career, he wanted to give back to his fellow veterans. Hire Heroes works to find jobs for military veterans coming back from war as they try to integrate back into everyday life after many spend several years or maybe even most of their adult lives serving our country in the line of duty.
"It means a lot," Stann told FOX Sports about Bader’s donation. "The fact that Ryan, in a time where MMA sponsorships are difficult and it’s not easy to go out there and find deals and get good money, and he’s donating a significant amount. He’s putting us on his banner, putting us on his shorts, that’s extraordinarily valuable for us.
"Not knowing Ryan very well, this let’s me know a lot about him. He does this every fight. He finds a charity and he and his team make a contribution."
Bader believes it’s important to not only support the troops who serve the United States military through words and promotion, but to also give back and help financially in whatever way he can.
Despite a cloudy forecast for sponsorship dollars in the next six months as the UFC’s Reebok uniform deal waits to start, Bader still wanted to give back ahead of his fight this weekend because supporting the military is something he believes should happen regardless of an economic climate. Bader finds support from sponsors such as American Ethanol, who have helped him during his career so he can give back to the veterans who deserve so much more.
While there are no guarantees what will happen once the Reebok deal launches in July, Bader knows the military veterans returning home need help now and that’s why he’s continue to show his support both publicly and financially for every fight he has in the UFC.
"It’s important for me. You can’t just do it when times are good and prosperous," Bader said. "The climate changed a little bit with sponsors and we’re in a little bit of a no man’s zone until the Reebok deal kicks in. I just want to be consistent. I don’t want to be a frontrunner. If you have my support, you have my support 100-percent. I’m going to be there through good times or bad times and everything in between."
Stann’s organization, Hire Heroes USA, has had huge success with placing veterans into new jobs and with continued support like what he’s receiving from fighters like Bader, the military men and women coming home from service will continue to benefit from the program’s numerous resources.
If there’s one hope Stann has in his work with Hire Heroes USA, it’s that one day he’ll be out of business.
"It has a huge impact on the American economy. This is a class of people who want to work, they don’t want to be unemployed. They don’t want to be home and asking for government benefits. It’s very important. We always appreciate guys like Ryan Bader who are willing to talk about what we do," Stann said.
"I’m the only non-profit I know of that’s looking to go out of business. We want to make this so it’s not an issue. We want to make it so unemployment rates for veterans 18-24 isn’t over 20-percent and there’s no longer a need for us."