WASILLA — The Valley’s local wrestling organization NSA Wrestling is teaming up with AMVETS Post 9 yet again for their second annual Patriot Games, a special wrestling match that serves as a fundraiser for U.S. military veterans.

“It’s a family event and the kids love it, love it,” Event coordinator Barbi Montagne said.

Wrestlers will take it to the mat outside the post to provide live, local entertainment on July 20 starting at 7 p.m.. There will be a beer garden and food available for purchase. There will also be a meet and greet prior to the action at 6 p.m. where attendees can talk to their favorite wrestlers.

More inside

“If we can actually do some stuff that helps along the way, why not?” NSA Co-owner Mitchell Helps said.

Last year, NSA and AMVETS raised about $1,000 for the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Paws for Patriots nonprofit groups.

This year, funds will go towards Mission 22, a national nonprofit that provides support and resources to veterans as a response to the statistic of 22 veterans dying each day.

“We’re hoping for a big crowd,” Montagne said.

NSA has featured several veterans and active military of varying ages throwing their hats in the ring over the years. Currently, there are three people from military keeping up with the shows, according to Helps.

“When it comes to wrestling it’s very much like a group and there’s like, this trust. The comparison that I would make is that wrestlers live in a world that society doesn’t really know about and doesn’t really understand. You can say that very much about people who’ve been in the military. Like, you don’t understand it unless you’ve done it,” Helps said.

That feeling of unity under a common cause perhaps is one of the things that appeals to the local veterans entering NSA, Helps mused.

“They desire that after they’ve gotten out of the military and a wrestling family is kind of similar,” Helps said.

Montagne said it was a, “brothers in arms kind of thing,” that familiar sense of comradery they felt from their military family in service.

“So maybe that is the appeal. That would be my guess. I just like it because I get to hit people and stuff,” Helps said with a laugh.

“And I like watching him hit people,” Montagne said with a laugh.

Montagne said that she’s loved to watch wrestling since she was about 5 years old. She said that her mom raised her with WWE. She said that she’s been a longtime fan and spectator of Coleman and Helps before befriending them.

“She’s been a fan longer than we’ve been wrestling [officially as NSA],” Helps said.

Montagne said NSA’s efforts bring unique and engaging entertainment to the local level that especially resonates with the kids. She said the kids at these shows are very invested in the sagas of the good guys and villains on stage.

“… Watching these kids and their faces light up and then these guys, whether they’re good or bad, they’ve enveloped these kids and made them feel like they’re actually there. They are a part of this,” Montagne said.

Montagne said that NSA shows are an enriching experience that’s rare to see in this increasingly technological age. Coleman has always strived to make this a family event and fun escape into another world for his fellow Valley residents.

“It’s a different kind of entertainment,” Coleman said.

Montagne thought it would be a perfect fit for the AMVETS to work with NSA to entertain veterans, families and people from across the Valley. She got with NSA Co-owner and Founder, Sean Coleman, last year to host the first event.

“It really was a great showing last year, even for the kind of short notice but our goal for this year is to get a lot more of the community,” Montagne said.

Montagne said they’re planning to make this an annual event that grows each year. Coleman noted that with the Valley’s tumultuous trials and errors, with the growing pains of modernization and the population boom, it’s important for him to offer a place for kids and their family to spend their time.

“The way that kids are, pretty much most of the entertainment they get is video games and cell phones. Once they get a little bit older, it’s drugs and alcohol and getting into trouble,” Coleman said. “Anything that can you steer somebody from spending more time on their cell phone in this day in age is a good thing.”

Pre-sale tickets are available at AMVETS Post 9, located at 1591 Creste Foris St, Wasilla. Pre-sale tickets cost $7 and are available until July 19. Day-of tickets will cost $10. For more information, call 907-376-2999.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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