UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture sixth annual poker ride raises money for wounded soldiers and their families.
The Xtreme Couture GI Foundation was established “to honor veterans of America’s armed forced. The foundation was especially formed to raise money and awareness for those wounded in action and their families,” it reads on the foundation's official website. And it has done that.
On Sunday, the foundation hosts its sixth annual poker ride.
“It’s an all-day event. We go to five different stops and it’s about 20 to 30 miles between stops. It’s a little over a hundred miles,” explained Couture.
Having served in the Army from 1982 to 1988 and reaching the rank of Sergeant, Couture has long supported the armed forces. After meeting wounded soldiers returning home and visiting the troops overseas, the MMA legend and actor felt an overwhelming obligation to use his celebrity status to raise money and awareness for those injured in combat.
“I wore the uniform for six years in the mid-80s. And there was nothing going on at the time but a Cold War with the Russians. I never had to put it on the line. Did a lot of training, air assault school and what have you, and never found myself in a position to need to defend myself or our country. Now, over 20 years later, I find myself in a completely different place in life. Those were a pretty formative six years,” Couture told MMAWeekly.com.
“Having gone to Iraq and spent some time with some of the guys there, been to the hospitals in D.C. on several occasions and met some of those guys who had come back wounded. The desire to want to get involved, raise awareness about those guys and the sacrifices they’ve made and raise some money is where the foundation came out of,” he explained.
The Xtreme Couture GI Foundation has raised more than a half million dollars since forming nearly six years ago and has aided several soldiers and families. It’s a small non-profit, but the lack of overhead expenses translates into a much higher percentage of money making its way to the hands of soldiers.
“It’s a very small foundation. It’s just my gym staff that runs the events that we do. And because we’re small and have very little overhead just about every cent goes to soldiers,” he said.
To help identify potential soldiers in need, the foundation draws on the assistance of Walter Reed Military Hospital’s cooperation.
“Every year I make a trip out to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and some of the staff there helps me identify families that may or may not need a leg up and we write checks and give them right to soldiers and their families,” said Couture.
But there are several ways to seek assistance from the foundation if you’re a veteran or a veteran’s family.
“You can do it through the application process or writing a letter, but any way you want to reach out to us is fine by us. We don’t have a lot of red tape or anything,” said the GI Foundation’s founder. “Reaching out to us through email or sending a letter to the gym, anything pretty much works.
“It’s pretty rewarding to be involved in. You can’t meet one of these guys and the patriotism they exhibit and not be motivated and touched by that. It’s something I feel like I needed to do,” said Couture.
The event takes place on Sunday, May 26, starting from the Extreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas.