A grappling tournament will raise money for a local man battling cancer.
Greg Garnand, 26, grew up in Woodstock and graduated from Woodstock High School. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer that typically starts in bone or cartilage. He has since had his leg amputated.
Garnand, a former grappler, is being considered for a $100,000 prosthetic leg that would allow him to walk without assistance. The Grapple for Greg tournament — all proceeds from which will go to Garnand’s family to help pay for his care — is being organized by Dan Hart, a Woodstock City Councilman and co-owner of Alpha BJJ, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu academy at 222 N. Benton St., Woodstock. Garnand was a student at Alpha BJJ’s predecessor, the former Triton MMA in Woodstock.
Hosted by Wanderlust Grappling, the round-robin martial arts tournament will be held Saturday, July 15, at Woodstock North High School, 3000 Raffel Road. It is open to people of all skill levels ages 8 and older. Spectators are encouraged. A super fight serves as the highlight, featuring elite competitors in the sport, including black belt Mike Budnik, under whom Garnand earned his blue belt. A silent auction, raffles, food and drinks will also be offered.
The event kicks off with weigh-ins at 9 a.m. Grapplers can pre-register for $89. Tickets for spectators are $15, or $20 after 2 p.m., when the super fight begins. Other matches start at 11 a.m.
Garnand left Triton MMA to finish school and pursue his dream of becoming a paramedic. When a broken femur sent him to the hospital, doctors discovered he had a tumor. After consulting with doctors at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Garnand transferred his care to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion.
He began chemotherapy after his femur was stabilized, and in November 2016, after his first session of chemo, Garnand underwent a hip replacement and spent six weeks recovering. Chemo resumed again in January, but doctors discovered in March that the tumor had returned and was growing rapidly, from seven to 31 inches in less than four weeks.
Garnand was faced with no choice other than to amputate, a surgery that took his leg and part of his hip and pelvis. Imaging showed that the tumor was contained to the leg, but nine days after the amputation, doctors found another tumor. Within three weeks, several more tumors were evident, including one that had spread to his lungs.
In addition to needing physical therapy to learn how to use the prosthetic leg, Garnand faces a bigger challenge when he undergoes scans in several weeks to determine if the cancer has continued to spread. His wife, Mary Garnand, said clinical trials may be one of his last options.
Donations to the Garnand family are being accepted at gofundme.com/greggarnand.