David Bayer, along with his six-year-old daughter Emma and women's pro soccer star McCall Zerboni, recently spearheaded a campaign that netted over $5,000 for breast cancer research, and he announced on Jan. 12 in an exclusive interview with Long Island MMA Examiner Eric Holden that he's planning another fundraising project for October.
Bayer received assistance in late-2012 from Invicta FC officials Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin in collecting donations of sports bras from some of the top female MMA stars in the world. He then sold the items on eBay, and donated the profits to Keep-A-Breast and the Breast Cancer Survivor's Network.
The auctions were designed to raise awareness and funds in the fight against breast cancer through the empowerment of women. A total of $5,346 was collected for the 63 items Bayer received from women's MMA stars.
Among the many female MMA stars who contributed were Racheal Blaze, Emily Kagan, Julie Kedzie, Cassie Crisano, Hitomi Akano, Ayaka Hamasaki, Sara McMann, Ronda Rousey, Katalina Malungahu, Liz Carmouche, Bec Hyatt, Amanda Bell, Cassie Robb, Michelle Waterson, Laura Sanko, Arianny Celeste, Felice Herrig, Sarah Goodlaxson and Tecia Torres.
Rousey's bra was the top seller, and Celeste followed close behind.
Rousey's bra raked into $810, while Celeste brought in $449. Herrig's cute pink sports bra sold for $405, and Hyatt's top drew a high bid of $355.
Bayer generously took out a few minutes from his busy schedule to answer questions from Long Island MMA Examiner Eric Holden. Here's what he had to say:
Q. Your recent eBay auctions featuring sports bras from women's MMA stars netted over $5,000. When is the next project scheduled for?
Bayer: The next one for WMMA will be in the October area. We will coordinate it with Invicta's event in that time period. Janet Martin and Invicta were essential in putting this together with us.
Between now and then, we will have other auctions. We have a Women of Comedy auction that we're working on. We also have some special items; a bra signed by the 2012 US Women's Olympic team (gold medal winners) and one signed by four of the gold medal gymnasts.
Q. For athletes who wish to donate items, what is the best way to reach you?
Bayer: Email is the best way - firstname.lastname@example.org And there is no need to wait until close to October. Any time is fine.
Q. Where does the money go to?
Bayer: We work with two groups for our auctions, Keep-A-Breast and Breast Cancer Survivor's Network. KAB was the main recipient this time. 90% of the bid amount goes to the charity. The other 10% is to cover eBay and Paypal fees.
Q. Last time around, the big-ticket items came from Ronda Rousey, Felice Herrig, Arianny Celeste and Bec Hyatt. Do you expect to target some of the bigger names in the sport to get more items like this, or you're just as happy with the $20 items from lesser-known athletes?
Bayer: A "big" name to us is anyone who is compassionate about the cause. Many of these women related personal stories about connections to cancer. We welcome all women. There is no limit to the number of items that we'll accept. For the next auction, we will have more time to make contacts. I think the success of this auction will attract more participants.
Q. Arianny Celeste's bra sold for over $300 I believe. Any plans to reach out to more ring girls?
Bayer: We made a lot of requests to women in that field. There were more who said they would send a bra, but never came through.
Q. UFC star Liz Carmouche recently tweeted that it might be a good idea to start collecting bottoms, not just tops. Any plans for that?
Bayer: Sports bras are our niche, but we will gladly pair up any item with a bra that the women would like to send...equipment, photos, etc.
Q. Some have suggested that selling used bras on eBay may be creepy or inappropriate. Any response to that?
Bayer: For our April auction, Sarah Spain of ESPN W wrote a story about us and also donated a bra. I think her response to someone who made the comment to her was very fitting - "
"Breast cancer involves breasts. This breast cancer charity is co-run by an athlete whose aunt died of breast cancer. Athletes wear sports bras. Sports bras hold breasts. Voila. It's not creepy, it's a creative and different idea to help contribute to a good cause. It's no different than auctioning off tee-shirts, jerseys, etc."
Q. To generate more interest from athletes, any chance you'd think about throwing some of the profits their way?
Bayer: There actually aren't any profits, and I think it would take away from the whole charity aspect of things. I saw one internet story that described MZ & Emmers as "an auction company". We're far from a "company". Its just myself, my wife Carey, our six-year-old Emma, and McCall.
Q. What made you want to get involved in raising money for breast cancer research?
Bayer: The "MZ" half of MZ & Emmers is our dear friend McCall Zerboni, a professional soccer player. She lost an aunt to breast cancer. My wife and I have both lost friends to the disease, and we have a close friend who is a survivor.
Q. Are you a fan of women's MMA?
Bayer: To be honest, I didn't know much about the sport until we started this auction. Watching Invicta FC 4 was my introduction.