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#22 Rich McKeegan

Rich McKeegan has used his love of Jiu Jitsu to make incredible changes not only in his own life but the lives of countless others as well.

Years of living a hard partying lifestyle was taking a toll and Rich decided it was time for a change. Rich would return home every night after work and stay inside watching UFC videos. He did this for six months, and being away from the negativity of drinking and partying helped him change a lot of his old habits.

Around this same time, Rich went back to college to become a drug and rehabilitation counselor. He also flew out to Las Vegas to watch a UFC event in person. After returning home one of Rich's friends decided to sign up for Jiu Jitsu classes. At the end of the night, Rich and that friend would close down where they worked (ironically a bar) and practice Jiu Jitsu. Shortly thereafter Rich decided to give classes a shot and was immediately hooked.

A couple of years into his training Rich's future was looking very bright. He had a good job, a loving wife, continued sobriety, and after a struggle, a baby on the way. On what should have been the happiest day of his life, the birth of his son, a local tragedy sent Rich's life on a new path.

While still in the hospital with his wife and newborn son Rich was noticing everyone gathered around the television. There had been yet another school shooting. This one was close to home, and one of the most tragic in American history. Twenty six people were killed that day including twenty first graders.

Rich knew he needed to help and decided to design patches for gis and sell them with the proceeds going to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown CT. The patches took off and were even worn by major competitors in huge tournaments across the country.

Not too long after the patches started really taking off, an acquaintance called Rich and offered to arrange a meeting with the parents of one of the shooting victims. Rich met with Ian Hockley, father of Dylan Hockley. They began a friendship and Rich knew he wanted to do even more....but what?

The idea of a charity Jiu Jitsu seminar with multiple black belts from across the country is what Rich decided on. All the money would go to Dylans Wings of Change, a charity that the Hockley's started in remembrance of their son.

Rich wanted to give back even more than he had been. He changed his old patch to one with Dylan on it with a black belt forming a heart around him. Rich remembered a story Dylan's mom told about how Dylan was their butterfly. After adding a butterfly in Dylan's outstretched hand, Black Belts for Butterflies was created.

With over eleven seminars in the books and over $100K dollars donated to Dylans Wings of Change and various other charities across the country, Black Belts for Butterflies is now working on becoming a non-profit. By doing so, they can help even more people make incredible changes all across the country. Changes like the ones Rich himself has inspired so many others to make.


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