Help me Start a Youth Wrestling Club and a 501c3

“Freedom is not the right to live as we please, but the right to find how we ought to live in order to fulfill our potential.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Zach Gaudreau. I am a 33-year old Army Veteran and served proudly for the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, and then I used my GI Bill to earn a bachelor’s in Physical Education.

I graduated with a 3.98 GPA, earning the University of South Florida’s Major of the Year Award, receiving acknowledgment for this honor at the National Physical Educator’s Conference. Also, for my contribution to my field with a publication in the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, as well as my proactive community engagement, I earned Graduate with Distinction for the USF College of Education. I take my profession very seriously, always keeping my focus on the betterment of my students and their community. I moved to Washington DC in the hopes of using my motivation and passion to make a positive change where it is needed most. Now, I am the PE Teacher and Athletic Coordinator at Neval Thomas Elementary School in Anacostia, located inside of Washington DC.

Schools in Anacostia are historically underserved, and my school has had the worst of it. The surrounding community is of low socioeconomic status and has a notorious criminal element, so keeping children engaged outside of all of that is critical, not just for their academic success, but for their own safety and freedom. Most of the schools in the area desperately need extracurricular activities to keep kids involved in their school and out of  trouble, but most athletic clubs only allow 3rd-5th grade students to participate. We all know that children are simply a reflection of their home circumstances, and this is ever apparent in many of the behaviors that I see every day.

Most teachers love their students, and I am no different, but it is easy to love the disciplined and cooperative students. Incessantly antagonistic, many of these children cannot communicate with each other without instigating a fight, and most disciplinary interventions result in nothing more than a display of a complete lack of personal accountability, degraded integrity, and utter defiance. Unfortunately, many of these altercations turn physical. We have had a fight every, single, day. The frequency with which I have seen 9-year old fists collide with another child’s face is an unsettling feeling I hope I never become immune to. I have had to wrench hands off of necks, place myself between 4th-grade roundhouse kicks, and spend entire class periods protecting my students from the worst of them. Call me naive, but this just makes me love my students even more.

My aim is to start a youth wrestling club for all of the students, Kindergarten through 5th grade, at Thomas Elementary. No other sport teaches personal accountability, humility, and self-awareness like wrestling. Once they understand what a loss in wrestling feels like, their compassion for their peers will undoubtedly improve, camaraderie will be forged, and they can finally stop trying to fight each other. The wrestling club would also provide an outlet for their energy, physicality, and aggression while putting their discipline and fitness on the whetstone.

There is a lot of interest in wrestling at this school, especially among the boys who are always so eager to prove how tough they are. But there are opportunities to grow more than fighting skills. Wrestling prepares a person to fight the game of life. The wrestler is the one athlete that must meet their opponent and do battle completely on their own; no one can substitute, no timeouts are possible. He has no one to check, screen, block, or assist them in any way. There is no one to blame for their mistakes. With a win, they must show quiet pride and modesty. With a loss, the responsibility is theirs. These lessons and more are carried with wrestlers throughout life and through every trial, test, and tribulation.

My plan is to charter a youth wrestling club with USA Wrestling as the governing body, and then turn it into a 501c3, a non-profit organization for youth sports. Once the tax-exempt status is implemented, I will create another fundraiser for the Tiger Wrestling Club, and then begin an aggressive campaign for donations to raise funds to purchase a competition-worthy wrestling mat, practice and competition gear, as well as purchase USA Wrestling memberships for the new wrestlers at my school. For now, I am asking for $1000 to charter the wrestling club and file the 501c3 paperwork.

This is about the children and their futures, for without critical character interventions, I fear that these children will ultimately lose their freedom, or maybe even worse. I whole-heartedly believe that wrestling is the exact prescription. Everyone has a lion inside of them but these children don’t know how to control it; wrestling can teach the self-control to know when to let the lion roar, and the confidence in knowing that our claws are sharpened. The Lion of Anacostia, Frederick Douglass, once said, “It is better to build strong children than to repair broken men.” This is what I aim to do, but I need your help.

Please share this with everyone you know. Any size donation would be greatly appreciated. Help me guide these children towards the path to freedom so they may discover their potential.


  • Tyler Gaudreau  
    • $50 
    • 8 mos
  • Tyler Gaudreau  
    • $5 
    • 8 mos
  • Stephanie Mohler 
    • $10 
    • 8 mos
  • Cameron Williams 
    • $10 
    • 8 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 8 mos
See all


Zachary Gaudreau 
Washington, DC
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