Wrestlers, arena tag-team for Red Cross

ALBANY, Ga. -- When word got out that the Southwest Georgia chapter of the American Red Cross was again having funding problems, a professional wrestling organization sprang into action.

TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling and the Albany Civic Center have joined forces to help raise money for the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross to help keep the doors open.

"TNA strives to make an iMPACT (sic) in every community we go to and we're asking for your help in Albany," said TNA Founder Jeff Jarrett in a statement e-mailed to the Herald. "This is the fans chance to support the Albany Red Cross and help them continue to make a positive iMPACT! (sic) here in Albany."

TNA officials learned of the Red Cross chapter's current financial hardships through a story published in The Albany Herald Wednesday.

"We saw the (Albany Herald web) site and decided we needed to do something to help out," said Chris Thomas, public relations manager for TNA Wrestling.

This prompted the organization to make a midday phone call to Chapter Executive Director Mari Wright, whose head was still spinning two hours after the fact.

"We are so excited," Wright said. "We thought it was wonderful because it shows that people pay attention. We are hoping it will be successful.

"Whatever we raise will be that much here we didn't have before."

In February 2009, donation flow to the chapter was low enough to consider closing the office's doors. When an appeal was made to the public, residents responded. Officials are finding that donations have dried up yet again, so they have since reached out to the community to replenish funds before the hurricane season starts.

For any monetary donation made at the Albany Civic Center Box Office at Friday's show, TNA Wrestling fans will receive a free child's ticket.

An American Red Cross table will start accepting donations at 5:30 p.m. The show is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.

When the Civic Center was contacted for comment, a Herald reporter was referred to Assistant City Manager Wes Smith. "The city is appreciative of TNA's willingness to help the Red Cross," Smith said.

Any child 12 and under accompanied by an adult can get into the show for a monetary donation. Roughly 1,000 people were expected to attend the event as of Wednesday afternoon.