Retired boxer and Army Public Affairs Officer, Major Boyd Melson believes he was put on this Earth to help cure spinal cord injuries. His calling started after meeting his former girlfriend and now best friend, Christan Zaccagnino who suffered a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed at the age of 10. After hearing her story he knew he had to help her walk again. In November 2010, Melson became a pro boxer to raise money and awareness for spinal cord injury research. Melson decided to donate all subsequent winnings and ticket sales towards a set of promising clinical trials aimed at chronic spinal cord injuries. Upon retiring in 2016, with a record of 15-2-1 his contributions totaled over $400,000. He always kept the promise he’d made to Christan close to his heart, fueling him to carry on whenever things got tough.
In 2010 Melson & Zaccagnino founded Team Fight To Walk as a platform for awareness in partnership with JustADollarPlease.org, the fundraising arm of Dr. Wise Young, the director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University
Melson’s generosity has inspired others to contribute donations as well, such as De La Hoya who announced that he’d match Melson’s purse by donating money to Team Fight to Walk. Johnson & Johnson (where Melson works full-time selling sutures) also matched the money he raises from boxing.
Melson’s contributions don’t stop at spinal cord injury research, he is also a volunteer assistant coach for the West Point women’s boxing team. Following his retirement, Melson began a new venture to combat drug addiction, by offering free boxing clinics in Staten Island to anyone struggling with addiction. He also donated the proceeds from his last fight to a charity that helps fight drug addiction in young adults. He planned to give them something new to focus on allowing them to overcome their addictions through a new avenue. Melson uses his classes as an opportunity to talk to young people about getting involved in activities after exiting rehab.
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Michael Santiago Render
ACTIVIST • RAPPER• ENTREPENUER
Business owner, Grammy award-winning rapper, and political & social activist Michael Santiago Render, better known by his stage name Killer Mike has made many strides toward uplifting his community through social inequality, police brutality, and systemic racism. He has used his many platforms to create change, empower, and uplifting the underserviced black community.