December 20, 2013

Pro wrestling fundraiser ‘a blessing’

Devin Golden

— VARNELL — The two Whitfield County school principals probably won’t wrestle each other again.

They were happy to combine their fandom with a bigger cause.

“It’s a bucket list for me,” Eastside Elementary School principal Ben Hunt said,” and I’m sure it is for (Westside Elementary) principal Tracy Mardis. More important, it’s great to help out a great little girl in Hannah (Locke).”

About estimated 300 people filled Coahulla Creek High School’s gymnasium Friday night to watch Hunt and Mardis square off in the four-sided ring and later watch a well-known former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler, Matt Hardy, in the main event.

The matches were part of the “Headlocks for Hannah” fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting Hannah and her family. A car accident in April left the 17-year-old paralyzed from the chest down, and money raised will help pay for medical treatment and rehabilitation sessions.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Hannah, a junior at Coahulla Creek. “It’s such a blessing with all the support we’ve had and even with this event. ... People I don’t even know come up to me and offer support.”

Mardis won the principal-versus-principal tilt. Britt Adams, Northwest Whitfield High School principal, was the referee for the match. The three principals are WWE fans and friends outside of the ring.

At the show was Hardy, someone the trio and other wrestling fans know quite well. Best known for being an eight-time tag team champion with real-life brother Jeff, Hardy won 13 championships in the WWE. He currently works as an independent wrestler.

“One of the most powerful things about the success I’ve had is giving back,” Matt Hardy said, “and doing something for someone that will put a smile on their face and give them a moment that will stay with them forever.”

Hardy wrestled Tommy Gage, a local wrestler from Eton, in the main event. There were 10 matches. Southern Style Pro Wrestling promoted the card.

Hannah’s father, Kelvin, said having a well-known name from the pro wrestling business attracted fans of the sport. He said Run for God and Lock’s Dozing were sponsors for the event.

“Tommy Gage contacted me about three weeks after Hannah’s wreck,” Kelvin Locke said. “He’s the one who put this together.”

Hannah was the passenger in a vehicle hit head-on April 5 on Dawnville Road when an approaching car crossed the center line in a tree-car accident. Others injured included her mother, Mandy, a principal at Dug Gap Elementary; grandmother Barbara Rose, a nurse at Hamilton Medical Center; and family friend Robyn Baggett, Valley Point Middle School principal.

Everyone who attended helped Hannah a little bit more on her road to recovery, something that Gage believes is possible.

“The way I understand it is she really has a chance to walk,” said Gage, the SSPW world heavyweight champion. “So let’s keep trying to help.”