Sports

Wrestlers help Van Buren fire department raise funds for safety equipment

VAN BUREN, Maine — Wrestlers grunted and groaned as they put on a show Saturday night to help the Van Buren Fire Department raise funds for special emergency response and rescue equipment.

Aroostook Wrestling Excellence, AWE, is a local wrestling charitable group that has been raising money for charitable causes and groups for the last three years. The organization celebrated its 3rd anniversary Nov. 10 at the Van Buren Community Center, where more than 70 people showed up to cheer on their favorite local wrestlers and watch them give each other “the chair.”

“The crowd is really into it,” Von Taggart, the owner of AWE, said that night. “The point is for the fans to have a good time while raising money for a good cause.”

As the owner, event organizer and wrestler, Taggart — whose wrestling name is Jacques-Louis Francais — contacted the fire department about doing the fundraiser after hearing the crew was trying to raise money for new equipment that grants weren’t going to completely cover.

“I’ve always wanted to do something to give back to the community,” Taggart said. “So we’re here tonight to help take care of the Van Buren Fire Department. We’re raising as much money as we can for them so they can get the emergency equipment they need, hopefully, as soon as possible.”

Taggart said he created the group “not just to entertain the fans, but to give back and help the community in some way.”

With each show that AWE puts on, a portion of the ticket proceeds go toward a charity or cause that Taggart feels is deserving.

The Ram hydraulic rescue tool the fire department wants to buy uses a piston to pry crumpled metal or objects apart and often is used to free people trapped in crashed vehicles or even buildings, according to Van Buren Fire Chief Brian Caron.

After ticket sales were divided up and donations counted, the AWE event raised $700 for the fire department that night.

“It is greatly appreciated on our behalf,” said Caron. “We can’t thank the AWE enough for helping out.”  

Caron said firefighters and local patrons enjoyed the event so much that they are already in talks about another event sometime this winter.

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