A Gi Drive for a charity who never saw the Gis, nor the money.

Posted: March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

On March 1, 2012 an Indiegogo page was setup for “Gi Drive” whose mission was to “Help us send over 100 BJJ Gis to the people who need them most!”. The fundraiser ended on April 30, 2012 according to Indiegogo. Link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gi-drive

Gi Drive Indiegogo Main

According to the page, during that time $2,907 was raised of a $4,250 goal with the intention of paying for the Gis that were collected to be sent to Brazil, specifically, Drive In Jiu Jitsu which was highlighted in Christian Graugarts blog here: http://www.bjjglobetrotter.com/?p=2271 this is likely to not include a non-disclosed amount that may have been collected in person or through other means.

Many BJJ companies including MMAstop.com, Meerkatsu, SubCulture USA, Gawakoto, Scramble, Ronin Brand , MMAoutlet.com and MAS contributed to “Perks” that people could buy and know the money was going to the cause. Several Chicago BJJ instructors also lended their time and resources to the project, Andre “Maneco” Leite, Mark Vives, Jeff Serafin, Misho Ceko, Adem Redzovic and Jay Valko.

The “Gi Drive” was organized by GiReviews.net’s Brendan Hufford. Brendan also owns a BJJ brand called Ok! Kimonos which focuses on childrens Gis but also makes adult gis. As stated on Ok! Kimonos webpage under their Gi Exchange Program link: “Supporting Drive-In BJJ Academy in Rio de Janeiro is the reason that I started Gi Drive and Ok Kimonos. Drive-In is located in a semi-favela part of Rio and I am vehemently passionate about the work that is being done there.”

OkKimonos Gi Exchange Program Page

He makes those same claims in an interview he did with Sally Arsenault for the online magazine BreakingMuscle.com (in August of 2013) and more recently even GiCritic (March 2014) mentions it.

Breakingmuscle article

gicritic

A large group of the BJJ community came together to support this great cause.

Almost 2 years have passed since the indiegogo campaign ended and I hadn’t seen a single picture, post or article done on the success of the campaign and the kids wearing any of their “new” gis.  This, based on Brendan Huffords marketing prowess, left me concerned. Brendan surely knows how to market things he is doing, so why not post anything in regards to Drive In Jiu Jitsu.

Because I couldn’t find any contact info for Paulo at Drive In Jiu Jitsu I searched the indiegogo Gi Drive page for anyone else associated with the page who would be able to verify it’s success. I noticed on the “Updates” tab it mentioned Dennis Asche from Connection Rio here:

E-mailed back and forth with Dennis Asche from

Connection Rio about getting the gis out to those who need them”

Gi Drive Indiegogo Updates

So I contacted Dennis Asche who emailed me saying he had no knowledge of what became of the Gi Drive and surely didn’t assist in them arriving in Brazil, so if they did arrive, they came from another avenue. I emailed him back asking if he knew how to contact Paulo at Drive In but have yet to receive a response.

Dennis Asche

I then contacted Christian Graugart on his facebook page asking if he knew how to get a hold of Paulo and he did, which was via a Facebook page which I had been unable to find previously.
On February 21st, 2014, almost two years after the Gi Drive ended,  I sent my first message to Paulo Cezar Drive-In via his facebook page:

Hello Professor, Did you ever receive the Gis that Brendan Hufford collected money and Gis for with this fundraiser? There was a lot of money and Gis collected and I don’t believe he had them sent to you and that he kept the money for himself. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gi-drive I’m sorry I don’t speak Portuguese but I will try and translate: Olá Professor, Alguma vez você receber o Gis que Brendan Hufford arrecadou dinheiro e Gis para com este fundraiser? Havia um monte de dinheiro e Gis coletados e eu não acredito que ele havia lhes enviado a você e que ele ficou com o dinheiro para si mesmo. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gi-drive Me desculpe, eu não falo Português, mas vou tentar traduzir:

Gi Drive

http://www.indiegogo.com”

I received a response within an hour from the page:

Hi Dan my name is Gina Dos Santos and I’m wife of Lucio Sergio friend of Drive in who is currently staying at our house in the Uk, where we have organised legitimate events to raise money for him and the children in Brazil.”

We are very shocked to learn that this person (who I befriended in Facebook) raised money on his behalf and I can assure you that he never received neither the his (gis) or the money he mentioned on the video”

“Yes we are very concerned that this has been done”

I asked if Gina knew if Paulo had ever heard of this Gi Drive before or Ok! Kimonos (who also claims to send Gis to Drive In) and she responded “He says he just found out about this when you sent the message!!”

Obviously, Gina and Paulo are very concerned with their reputation and that someone could use their good cause to make a profit:

“this ruins Paulo’s reputation and good will, and all the hard work we tried to do. He thanks in messages every time he receives a donation or gets invited to seminars, and my husband and my self have done videos after a seminar thanking people for attending and explaining were the money goes. This is terrible”

Paulo

So, almost two years later there is a large amount of Gis that were donated and a large amount of money donated to a cause that was unaware of the campaign even going on who never received a single Gi, nor a single cent. I know a lot of the donated Gis were adult gis and Brendan claims were sent to a project in California (I am unaware of to where exactly though). Regardless, it’s a disgusting thing to promote your brand as going charity work you DON’T ACTUALLY DO. I’m sure he’s just holding onto the money in his bank account or paypal account for a rainy day to randomly decide to finally send it to them.

That amount of money could easily outfit an entire academy for a very long time with brand new gis if the money alone had been used to order Gis from a factory or a generous company in Brazil who would discount a bulk order.

The fact that he has never supported Drive-in has not stopped Brendan Hufford from allowing people to say he does in online articles about his company. Which at the very least is dishonest and lacks integrity.

If you were a part of the Gi Drive, I’m pretty sure you’d like to know what happened to everything. At the very least, maybe this article will actually help get that money to where it was supposed to go by forcing Brendan to act.

Signed,

Dan

Edit: So after I contacted Paulo initially, he contacted Brendan and confronted him about the Gi Drive scandal. Brendan is now shipping Paulo some Gis (supposedly boxing them up tomorrow). I’ll update when I hear more. I guess Paulo talking to him was a nice motivator. I’m just glad a bunch of kids in Brazil are getting the Gis they need. (Hopefully anyway). When asked what Paulo’s sentiment was he said “Busted…now coming clean”.

Edit: According to a screen shot provided by Brendan, Brendan actually messaged Paulo in August of 2013, 1.5 years after the Gi Drive ended, and told him his intention of bringing Gis to Brazil during a personal trip (Which makes me wonder if he was using the charity funds to get fly him down there…). I am assuming Paulo simply gets a lot of traffic from people wanting to donate and that he forgot about Brendans post. Brendan never mentioned the Gi Drive, just that he collected used Gis and would be giving new ones. Which still leaves a ton of questions and still proves Drive In had no idea their name for the charity. For instance, Brendan admits that he had 100% control of the funds, but Nick Mitria (his original Gi Drive partner) ended up with all of the Gis. So what Gis are being sent to Rio? Did Brendan use the funds to make Ok! Kimonos gis to send to Rio, with the intention of claiming he donated them?

Edit: (3.25.2014)

Originally posted by Robert Kipness on the MMAunderground forum, he received a statement from Nick Mitria (from SubCulture, Brendans original partner for the Gi Drive).

I asked Nick about this whole situation, if he sent the gi’s to CIA Paulista and his involvement in it. He responded back to me with this.

This is the direct email I got from him, word for word. Take it for what you want.

– “First, I want to say that it is not my job to drag anyone’s name through the mud, and I did not plan on getting involved in this discussion unless my name was brought up and my involvement came into question.

My role was to run the facebook page and website, and get bodies to the Gi Drive Open Mat event, as I was tied into the Jiu Jitsu community and Brendan was a relatively unknown person.

It was Brendan’s responsibility to handle all funds and the logistics of where the gis were going.

After discovering the expense of shipping all of the gis collected to Brazil, an alternative option was required. At this point the gis were supposed to go to Cia Paulista for an outreach project for the youth in California. Very few of the gis collected were actually youth gis.

On October 5th, 2012, Brendan sent me $312 via his personal PayPal account to cover UPS shipping fees to send the gis to California. After speaking to one of the head instructors at Cia Paulista, we discovered that adult gis were not needed and they were specifically looking to collect youth gis. (We had collected maybe 6 youth gis?)

I had my falling out with Brendan after a phone conversation I had with him regarding the funds, which he controlled. He suggested to me that we split the money that was raised for the charity and go our separate ways. I told him that was not our money for splitting, but he felt that he was owed a fee for running around and administrative work. I told him it was donated for a cause and it should be used for just that. I then made it very clear I no longer wanted anything to do with him, and that was the last time I spoke to Brendan Hufford over the phone.

None the gis were shipped to California, the $312 dollars was used to pay for storage of the gis, the remainder of the cost was out of pocket. I had to seek out a new project to donate all of the gis to. I found that former instructor and friend Andre Negao had a project out of Brazil 021 to collect and donate gis in Brazil, so all gis collected through the Gi Drive were sent to Andre Negao. You can see in the attached document that 67 gis were received by them. (There are still a dozen or two in storage, for the project’s next trip down.)

If anything is unclear, feel free to ask me any questions, but I have no interest in going on with “he said, she said” garbage.”

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Comments
  1. martin says:

    I am a resident of Brazil and a U.S.Citizen. I will be going back there soon and can check if they are ever delivered.Sad story.

  2. Extremely glad to see his true character being exposed here, well done! I had a previous experience with him that would paint a very similar picture.

    Also like his partner, it is not my purpose to drag someones name through the mud, especially with professional relationships. Having read this though, it really does solidify the thoughts I had when our agreement became twisted by senile mind. Found him to be extremely unprofessional and much others(I’m sure there are more people who have been burned), had a falling out over time.

    +1 for the good guys

  3. Gonad says:

    Glad I just saw this before placing an order from Ok Kimonos…

  4. SPE says:

    wow, I was just about to buy one of their GI’s. Great article, changes where my money’s going.

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