Elite Australian grappler Lachlan Giles has been cementing his reputation as the “people’s hero” for quite some time, and now, he’s committed a good deed that will help a jiu-jitsu gym in California during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fellow black belt Dan Lukehart, who organized the Pineapple Invitational and recently made BJJ news for his efforts to acquire personal protective equipment for medical staff in need, shared a bit of heartwarming news yesterday by announcing what many of us have also known for a while now:
What had prompted the post started with Lukehart’s announcement that he would be suspending all active memberships at his academy, Brea Jiu-Jitsu, which is located in California. However, students would be able to continue making payments or donations of other amounts via the academy’s PayPal, Breajiujitsu@gmail.com.
It was then that Lukehart got a surprise from Down Under. Giles contacted Lukehart and said that he wanted to give the academy $1,000, or about a year’s membership for Brea Jiu-Jitsu.
The donation was a surprise to Lukehart given the extent of his relationship with Giles. “Lachlan and I have known each other for a few years, before he got famous. I’ve cornered his wife (and maybe him, I can’t even remember) at a few tournaments, but he’s not somebody that I know exceptionally well. I consider us friends and colleagues, but the fact that he just went completely out of his way to do this really shows what kind of a person he is deep down,” he told the Jiu-Jitsu Times.
While the financial boost is a big help to Lukehart’s business in this tough time, he says that the emotional impact has perhaps been even more powerful. “It makes me feel supported, there’s no question about that. My daily mood went from being impacted by losing four, five, six students one day to, at the other end of the spectrum, having people like Lachlan. There’s this yin and yang between the two extremes.”
Lukehart doesn’t fault his students who can’t afford to pay their memberships right now, but acknowledges that the emotional struggle brought upon his academy by the pandemic has been eased by Giles’ good deed. “Not every student can pay. It’s heartbreaking but understandable. But what Lachlan did goes beyond the financial. I have a lot of students who are paying, but they don’t want the Zoom classes that we offer, they just want to roll. It’s disheartening to only see a few students in the Zoom classes. And with everything going on, there’s this feeling of impending doom, but at the other end, you have Lachlan. Actions like this show you how much you’re appreciated in people’s lives.”
For what it’s worth, the admiration and respect is clearly mutual. A few days ago, Giles himself shared a post on social media detailing how Lukehart had helped shape him into the competitor he is today:
In a time when everyone is scared and angry, it’s refreshing to know that there’s still good to be found inside our own community.