Live To Fight founder, Kristen Brown talks about the battle with Cancer and charity

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On Sunday June 22, Live To Fight, that is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help those in the martial arts community who are facing life-threatening illnesses is hosting a charity seminar at Serra BJJ in Huntington for a father diagnosed with brain cancer.

Last month, Live To Fight hosted a seminar to help a 2-year-old boy battling Cancer with Matt Serra, Karel Pravec, Mark Staniszewski and Joe Scarola and raised $5.000 dollars.

In an exclusive interview for GRACIEMAG, The founder of Live To Fight, Kristen Brown talks about her personal fight with Cancer and what motivated her to create the organization. She also comments the event this weekend for Brian Baney, and what are her plans for the future with this charity.

Kris Brown, founder of Live To Fight, training Jiu-Jitsu.

Kristen Brown, the founder of Live To Fight training Jiu-Jitsu.

GRACIEMAG: Kris, what motivated you to start this charity project?

KRISTEN BROWN: I was first diagnosed with cancer, Hodgkin’s disease when I was only a teenager. I went through chemotherapy; radiation, surgeries and I best my disease. I remained cancer free but was in and out of hospitals for the next twenty years of my life due to of my long-term side effects. I always loved volunteering and helping people and I’ve also been a diehard fan of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for several years. I attended a BJJ seminar in 2011 for the son of UFC fighter Dan Miller who was suffering from a kidney disease. I walked out of that seminar thinking our community; the martial arts community needs an organization in times of crisis.

Two years later, I underwent a double mastectomy for breast cancer. At the same time my best friend, Reggie “Wreckker” Cardiel, a professional fighter was undergoing treatment for stage 4 Neuroendocrine cancer. One month after my surgery my BJJ teacher, Mark Staniszewski’s 15 month old baby boy got diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer. I remember lying in bed, in so much pain, and just crying. But I wasn’t crying for me, I was crying for my friends who I loved who were sick; I felt helpless. Being sick and being the patient had become such a normalcy for me, but when the people I loved got sick it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I started Live To Fight to bring together and empower the fight communities to help our own win the toughest fights of their lives. Live to Fight seeks raise awareness and money to support individuals in the martial arts, MMA, combat sports community – our community suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

In your opinion, how the BJJ community is embracing the cause?

The BJJ community has been amazing! I love BJJ! I started training a few years ago. Because of my health it’s been hard to train consistently. I think it’s the most beautiful sport in the world, and the people that I have encountered in the community have been so supportive. To me it’s like an extended family.

We have had a few BJJ seminars and the turnout was great! My first event was a No Gi BJJ seminar at Renzo Gracie’s in NYC with Chris Weidman, Jim Miller, Renato Laranja, and John Danaher. Charlie Liu of Digitsu filmed it and LTF gets the proceeds of sales. Last month we had another seminar with Matt Serra, Karel Pravec, Mark Staniszewski and Joe Scarola. We raised $5,000 for a 2-year-old boy with cancer. I’m so excited to have Renzo teaching our event this weekend! The community as a whole has really embraced my charity. I’m especially grateful for Matt Serra, Ottavia Bourdain, Renato Laranja, Mark Staniszewski, Joe Monihan, Alex Aristides, Bobby Razak, Karel Pravec, Charlie Liu, Renzo Gracie and our newest Live To Fight supporter Rose Gracie.

Kris, you are promoting an upcoming charity event to support a dad with brain cancer. How many people you are expecting to support? If someone is not able to attend, how can they still donate?

On Sunday June 22, at Serra BJJ Academy in Huntington, LI we are having an event for Brian Baney. Brian is the father of a local fighter who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer. There is an MMA seminar in the morning 10-12 with Ray Longo and then 1-4 there’s a BJJ seminar with Renzo Gracie. I’m hoping for over a hundred participants and we already have a lot of people preregistering. After the seminars we have set up a dunk tank so people can come and dunk their favorite fighter. It should be a great day. It’s a chance to train with some of the best in the world while helping someone in our community. If anyone can’t attend we are always accepting donations at our website, 

What is next? Tell us your plans for the future with LiveToFight?

There are so many things that I want to do! In the long run I want to make Live To Fight a household name amongst MMA and BJJ fans and practitioners. I want to the organization to be big enough so we never have to turn anyone who needs help away. In the immediate future we are going to be working very closely with Rose Gracie. I’m very excited about joining forces with Rose! We have also been picked as the beneficiary charity of Fit To Fight; a national 12-week fitness challenge started by celebrity Top Chef Mike Isabella. We will be doing more events with Live To Fight supporters Matt Serra, Jim Miller, and Daron Cruikshank. We are always looking for new people to do seminars with and to work with. If anyone is interested contact me at

I am so grateful for the support of the BJJ community. Unfortunately there are so many people like Brian, and I really believe together we can make a difference and help them in the biggest fight of their lives.

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