Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow



Every Wrestling 4 A Cause starts with a word of prayer and a question: Has anybody been impacted by Erlanger?

“There’s not a single show we’ve ever done that there aren’t three or four kids or parents who raise their hand,” said William Venable, founder and chief executive officer of the local Wrestling 4 A Cause nonprofit. He raises his hand, too. Three years ago, when Venable’s daughter, Grace, was 11, she began regularly visiting Children’s Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanoog­a for respirator­y issues.

“She’s so much better now. She’s going to be 14 in just a few days,” he said. “So many people have been impacted by Erlanger.”

Wrestling 4 A Cause is hosting Spring Fling 2020, tonight, March 5, at The Colonnade Center, 264 Catoosa Circle in Ringgold. Matches start at 7:30 p.m.

The fundraisin­g event will bring three World Wrestling Entertainm­ent Hall of Famers to Ringgold. Among the lineup are legends Rhyno, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Buff the Stuff Bagwell and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling star Johnny Swinger.

In addition to seven matches, there will be a 20 Man Battle Royal.

“We don’t do anything outlandish, we’re not going for super-hardcore violence,” Venable said. “We just want to bring people out, have fun for the charity. We’re just a clean, familyfrie­ndly show.”

He and the nonprofit’s vice president Allen Rittenhous­e grew up watching wrestling in the ’80s.

“Growing up, we thought ‘We want to get involved and do fun stuff like that,’” Venable said. “So it just came out of a personal enjoyment. Why not turn it into something fun that also can raise money for a cause?”

Their first show was in October 2014, raising money for breast cancer research with the American Cancer Society. They then did three shows for ACS’ Relay for Life. More recently, the group transition­ed to raising money for Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, for which they have held six shows.

At first, they were drawing crowds of 75-100 people, then 150-200 attendees. Now they’re hoping to sell all 500 seats.

Venable, who is the store manager of a Walmart in Dalton, Georgia, made the leap to turn the events into a full-blown nonprofit last fall. By doing this, he’s been able to secure sponsors and bigger names.

“The sets that we will have, the displays that we have, it’ll just be so much bigger and larger,” he said. “Talent is the biggest thing. Bringing in three Hall of Famers is something we’ve never gotten to do before.”

But none of this, said Venable, could be possible without his dedicated board.

“We’re excited about where the charity can go,” he said. “We do this on lunch breaks and in our free time outside of our normal job … to do something that can impact the hospital that impacts our area.”

Tickets are $25 ringside or $15 general admission. They may be purchased in advance online at https:// colonnadec­enter.tix. com/Event.aspx?EventCode=1171656 or at the door beginning at 6 p.m.

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