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Warriors for Heroes - A.M.M.O. Event Preview

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Out of tragedy will come awareness and hope.

Adam Muffler committed suicide last fall after serving two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muffler was also an aspiring fighter out of Bergers MMA with a couple of amateur fights under his belt. Earlier this year Adams aunt, Linda Ricci and family launched the Adam Muffler Memorial Organization (AMMO-usa.org) to raise money to help other soldiers struggling with the transition back into everyday life. On Saturday October 26, AMMO will take over Chaifetz Arena (on the campus of Saint Louis University where Muffler was a student) with a night of professional and amateur MMA with proceeds going toward organizations that help treat veterans with PTSD.

Headlining Warriors for Heroes, which will have five pro fights, will be a match-up between St. Louis up-and-comer Chris Stump Heatherly (6-1) and talented veteran Dakota Cochrane (15-4).

The motivation behind this event was when we found out that there are 22 suicides a day that are occurring, Ricci said. That really hit home. We have now lost more soldiers to our own guns than in war. That is when we took a step back and started learning more about PTSD.

Choosing MMA to be the catalyst for the fundraiser seemed a perfect fit to Ricci and the family.

That was Adams sport, she said. The brotherhood of that sport duplicates a lot of what goes on in the armed forces. Its a sport that is healthy for these returning veterans. Their biggest factor when coming home is, what to do now?

David Mirikitani has been by Riccis side helping to get the event afloat and handling the ins and outs of getting the card together and promoting the event.

The card is not only highlighted by the Heatherly/Cochrane match-up but also features pros Mark Dickman against Josh Arocho, Mike Wright versus Tyler Perry, Nick Grant against Jesse Gerringer, and Joshua Wiseman takes on Shelby Graham.

I think that the Cochrane/Heatherly winner and Dickman could be in the UFC within a year, Mirkitani said. We have some lesser-known fighters on the card but the military connection is really strong.

The event is being sponsored in part by UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture (the man Time magazine called, Ultimate Fightings Babe Ruth) and his Xtreme Couture GI Foundation. Couture will be in the St. Louis area beginning Thursday night where fans will have ample opportunities to meet the legend, purchase tickets and help this great cause. Those in attendance will also have a chance to win an autograph copy of, The Final Round, a pictorial book of Coutures final training camp authored by Knuckle Junkies Sara Levin.

So far, corporate St. Louis has embraced the event. Now, Ricci, Mirikitani and AMMO just needs the St. Louis community and MMA fans to come out, fill the seats, and enjoy an exciting night of fights.

Having Randy involved brings credibility to the event, Ricci said. The biggest thing is to come out and support these guys. Every ticket saves lives. We know Saturday will be Game 3 of the World Series but if you are not going to the game please come out for a great night of fights and to give our veterans the support they deserve."

Couture will be hosting meet and greets on the following days and locations: Thursday at Bobbys Place in Valley Park at 8 pm followed by the Lucas Park Grille at 10:30 pm On Friday, after the 5 pm weigh-ins at the Empire Room at the Chase Park Plaza, he will be at the Social House in Soulard at 8 pm.

According to Mirikitani, AMMOs goal is simple: to help organizations who are trying to take some of the stigma out of PTSD and who are trying to make veterans suffering from it to realize that suicide is not the answer to their problems. It seems that many veterans are apprehensive to be tagged with the disorder, but cannot receive benefits to help with treatment unless they admit to having it.

Tickets for the Warriors for Heroes MMA vs. PTSD event can be purchased at www.ammo-usa.org. Tickets for the event range from $22 to $82, plus special VIP party packages and cage-side floor tables also available. The floor tables and suites that are available come with four hours of open bar and a dinner thats provided.

Our goal is to create awareness around that acronym of PTSD so people do understand what it is and how to identify these guys that are struggling after they come back, Ricci said. The second goal is to put on an event that raises a lot of money for the rehabilitative programs.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m., but the doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.ammo-usa.org, Amazon local or through the Chaifetz Arena website. Any questions or concerns, contact Mirikitani at 314-550-4186 or Ricci at 314-409-9991.

Photo courtesy of Sara Levin Photography. See more of her incredible work at slevin11.com

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