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Former UFC reality star fights for Colombian orphans

A one-time reality show contestant on The Ultimate Fighter show will hold a workshop Sunday to raise money for a struggling orphanage in South America.

By Rodolfo Roman Special to the Herald

For six years, Jeremy May’s father — a preacher based in Georgia — has been helping support an orphanage in his native Colombia.

But with the shelter in dire straits, the mixed martial artist is himself helping to fight for the orphans.

May, a former contestant of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s The Ultimate Fighter reality show, is conducting a mixed martial arts seminar Sunday at Monsters Training Center, 4190 SW 74th Ct.

All proceeds will be donated to the Promise Land in Pereira, Colombia, the orphanage supported by the May family.

“He took us there to help and make a difference,” May said about his father, Jaime May. “It’s an obligation for me. I feel these kids are mine.”

He will be teaching students mixed martial arts techniques including Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu moves. The season seven competitor of the Ultimate Fighter show teaches the kids mixes martial arts moves on a soccer field near the orphanage during his visits.

Since the May family started to help financially, a greenhouse was built in which fruits and vegetables are sold to cover costs. They also have 16 cows. But it’s still not enough.

“The money they make barely pays for their food,” said May, who lives in Vero Beach. Jeremy said in a phone interview. “We want them be self-sufficient. It costs a lot of money to take care of them.”

His father agrees.

“There are so many tales about these children,” Jaime May said. “Some parents are involved with drugs or prostitution or parents have been killed by the guerillas and they are alone.”

The orphanage is directed by Jaime and Rubiela O’ Byrne, who are known as an aunt and uncle to the children. The orphanage houses 78 children. There are separated dorms for girls and boys. Ages range from 1 to 19 years old.

But the facility is in dire need of repairs and needs financial support to avoid being shut down by the government, according to the Mays.

Currently, Promise Land’s kitchen roof is deteriorating and the Mays said the facility struggles to meet government requirements to hire a specific number of staff members.

Jeremy May said his goal is to raise $25,000. He also donates 50 percent of his fight earnings and all of his sponsorship money.

But the home, named Promise Land, “I feel like I am father to them,” said Jeremy. “They call me a champion. Once you spend time with them it’s hard to come back to the states.”

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