Five years ago, when Keldon LaRose and his family moved to Guilford from Utah, he didn’t know what to expect.
Would it be a smooth transition and would he make new friends?
As it turned out, the community embraced LaRose and his family and he quickly made new friends. The past four years at Guilford High produced some of the most memorable experiences of his life, including as a competitor in the 132-pound class for the Indians wrestling team.
As the senior entered his final wrestling season for the Indians, LaRose, with some input from his father, Randy LaRose, decided to do something to give back to the community that embraced his family. He came up with a fundraiser called “Pinning Poverty” that involved his wrestling team.
“Keldon and his father came into my office before the season started and explained what they wanted to do, and I thought it was great,” Guilford wrestling coach Craig Vedrani said. “We host multiple events at the high school that bring in money for our program, so running a fundraiser that would benefit the community was something that we felt good about.”
The concept involved each of the 26 wrestlers on the team to invite friends and family to sponsor them for anywhere from $1 to $5 for each pin they earned against opponents. Some wrestlers got one sponsor and others were able to get as many as 15.
When the wrestling season ended, the team earned a combined 265 pins, including Keldon LaRose’s 29 pins. During home meets, the team also had donation jars for spectators to make additional donations for the “Pinning Poverty” effort. The fundraiser ended up producing more than $3,500.
“It was a big project and we expected to raise only $1,000 or $2,000,” Keldon LaRose said. “But the support was so overwhelming. Everyone on the team embraced the effort. Everyone in the community reacted and supported the fundraiser with so many sponsors for our wrestlers.
“We love this community and we wanted to give something back. It’s one thing to be successful in wrestling. But this shows how much more sports has to offer, more than just wins and losses. The coaches and the team, everyone worked so hard to get those pins to contribute to the fundraiser. To raise over $3,500 and be that successful with a fundraiser to help the community feels great.”
Keldon LaRose donated the proceedings to two community charity organizations. He donated $2,000 plus food items to the Guilford Food Bank. He also donated $1,500 to the Women and Family Life Center of Guilford, an independent non-profit organization that helps women and families face challenges and transitions through support, education and referral services, according to the organization’s website.
“I was surprised at how much money was raised,” Vedrani said. “I was not expecting to see this much participation with the fundraiser. We have run “pin-a-thon” fundraisers in the past with some success, but definitely not $3,500.”
Randy LaRose, director of the New Haven Institute of Religion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Yale, couldn’t be more proud of his son.
“I’m beyond being proud of my son and what he has accomplished,” Randy LaRose said. “We had 48 total sponsors and each week I tallied the pins to give them updates. As a parent it was so gratifying to see this be so successful.”
Keldon LaRose and Randy LaRose said the plan is for Keldon’s sister Londyn LaRose, a sophomore and team manager for the wrestling team, to continue the “Pinning Poverty” fundraiser next season.