The Toronto Police College played host to hundreds of jiu jitsu enthusiasts from across the province to help raise money for the SickKids Foundation.
The February 28 Roll-a-thon paired off participants in five-minute bouts where they could practice techniques and offer each other advice. The moves and techniques of jiu jitsu that are generally referred to as rolling.
Training Constable Matthew Stuart organizes the event to bring together law enforcement members with the jiu jitsu community in a positive and fun atmosphere.
“Being involved in the jiu jitsu community I’ve had the opportunity to travel across North America, and you get to know many people involved and create the connections and communities. By putting out the message to those communities the event continues to grow,” Stuart said, of the third roll-a-thon he has hosted.
The event this year has so far raised over $19,000 for the SickKids Foundation.
“Very rarely do you hear about someone that hasn’t been impacted in a positive way by the by the the work that the SickKids Foundation does,” he said. “Jiu Jitsu is very family oriented and many clubs have extensive kids programs, they believe in the program they believe in community and they they just want to come out and have fun.”
Members from Barrie, Durham, York, and Windsor police services took part.
Jackie Brown, who works as a Special Constable for the Sarnia Police Service, holds a black belt in jiu jitsu.
“Anytime that somebody combines my two favorite things, jiu jitsu and fundraising, I’ll be there,” Brown said, “It’s the perfect sport to learn about yourself and interacting with police officers and community members in a way like this strengthens the community.”
This is the third time the event has been held, growing from 150 during its inception to over 500 people taking part this year, ranging in age from 10-55 and every skill level.
“It just shows who jiu jitsu is for, which is everyone,” said Stuart.
David Leadbetter, CEO of Avail Group, one of the main sponsors of the event, participated in the event in the past himself and wanted to get his company involved.
With multiple friends working as police officers as well as years of instructing jiu jitsu himself, he understood the importance an event like the roll-a-thon has on building trust within the community.
“This is huge, you look around the room and we have families, a barbecue outside, it’s a true community event. It gets bigger and better every year. But more than that it’s an opportunity to bring members of the community inside these walls with the people who serve and protect them and create personal connections.”