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In Honor of Aaron

Beat the Streets National recently announced the return of their Full Circle Scholarship Award to be distributed during the 2nd Annual Beat the Streets National Camp & Duals, to 10 recipients later this week. The scholarship is awarded to BTS youth who have graduated from the program and are planning to attend, or are currently attending a trade school or university while also volunteering at a BTS program. The concept of the scholarship is to award those who are dedicated to the full circle concept, this is the idea of participating in their local Beat the Streets program, using every opportunity it provides and then returning to become a mentor or coach to help youth from similar neighborhoods and circumstances reach their full potential.

Recently an anonymous donation was made to the Full Circle Scholarship Award Program in memory of Aaron Rankine-Wright. Aaron, a former Toronto wrestler is remembered as “a dedicated athlete with a soft heart and tough exterior, with a bright future ahead,” unfortunately his future was made short.

In 2018, Rankine-Wright was riding his bicycle to work when he was purposely struck by an suv. The passengers then jumped out of the vehicle and stabbed Aaron to death. Those passengers, the children who took Aaron’s precious life, were only 13 and 17 years old; they lacked a positive mentor and stability, instead they were active in a local gang which ultimately lead them to their downfall.

Anyone who knew Aaron, knew this was not supposed to be his fate; Aaron was a good kid with a very bright future ahead of himself, he worked hard on and off the wrestling mat, giving back to the very wrestling program that poured into him. Aaron was working to make his senior level debut and had plans to train with the Cuban National Team in the summer of 2018. News articles surrounding his death made it abundantly clear that Aaron was a shining light, and not one who would get caught up in trouble. However, Aaron came from circumstance that many of our Beat the Streets youth find themselves in, circumstances they strive to overcome, escaping neighborhoods consumed by gangs, poverty and school’s with low graduation rates.

Aaron’s coach and mentor from Central Toronto Wrestling Club shared, “Aaron was a model wrestler; anything you wanted him to do, anything you asked he would do it. His obstacles were getting to practice, sometimes bus fare would have been a problem, sometimes the distance … but when he was in practice, you tell him, ‘Jump,’ he’d say, ‘How high?'”

Aaron was just 19 years old when he was murdered, but he used every bit of those 19 years to help bring about change and leave a lasting impact on those he met. Aaron often returned to his wrestling club bringing other kids from his neighborhood to train alongside him. It was his hope that he could use the sport of wrestling to bring about change in his own life, and also the lives of those in his own community. An anonymous contributor who knew Aaron well, said, “He will be remembered for his love of helping kids to find their path,” noting he was often seen bringing his younger neighbors into wrestling practice.

The Beat the Streets National Full Circle Scholarship helps young adults just like Aaron, those who are committed to becoming the best versions of themselves while also helping the next generation as they bring along others to walk beside them as they give back to the very program that helped shape them. We are grateful for those who support the Full Circle Scholarship, but today, I am especially grateful for the anonymous donor who shared Aaron’s story with us because it reminded me just how important and necessary programs such as Beat the Streets are. It is my hope that one day we will see a Beat the Streets in every major city across North America, that youth just like Aaron, just like those student athletes already involved in Beat the Streets, will create a positive lasting impact on their neighborhoods and communities as they lead the way to change.

Thank you for taking the time to remember and honor Aaron for the incredible individual he was.

To contribute to the Beat the Streets National Full Circle Scholarship you can make a one time donation here, or become a monthly donor here.

Best Wishes,

Gina Perry

Director of Development and Communications

Beat the Streets National