NEW JERSEY – In October 2014, Brett Epps, a former State Champion wrestler (171 lbs) at Rutgers Prep, was stricken with FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis), a rare disease which significantly limits the kidneys’ ability to filter blood. Since his diagnosis last year, Epps and his family have received overwhelming support from both friends and strangers.
Brett’s father and coach, Kurt Epps, has been a driving force in the search for an ideal kidney donor and mitigating the financial difficulties presented.
Kurt Epps, who started coaching wrestling in 1969, trained each of his three sons on the mats of Rutgers Prep. Brett, Kacy, and Cody Epps combined for 255 career wins at the school. Together, they created a Facebook page titled “Wrestling My Toughest Opponent Ever” in efforts to locate a kidney donor for Brett. The gofundme page titled “Battling For Brett” has received $13,325 in donations in just two months. The elder Epps is appreciative of the powerful relationship in New Jersey’s wrestling community.
“The bond among wrestlers is a tight one,” Epps said. “Although they may be rivals on the mat, they come together when it matters most.” Over 500 t-shirts that read “Battling for Brett” have been donated by a friend and former teammate of Brett, with all proceeds going to the cause.
An immense display of support was shown by the South Plainfield and Monroe wrestling programs in January at the Rutgers Athletic Center, when both teams adorned the shirts, spreading further awareness throughout the community.
"Coach McCann and his assistants are not only producing good wrestlers, they're producing good men," Epps said.
Today, Kurt Epps is still the assistant coach of Rutgers Prep wrestling and also an acclaimed craft beer writer. On Monday, Feb. 16th, (President's Day), he plans to bring beer enthusiasts, wrestlers, and others together for a fundraising event at Foley’s Pub and Restaurant, which boasts more than 100 craft brews on its beer list, in Manhattan.
"The Craft Beers for a Cause" event will feature a sampling of some of his favorite beers. They include Ramstein Beer, produced by High Point Brewing in Butler, NJ, Climax Brewing, a microbrewer based in Roselle Park, NJ, and the Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing, based in Cherry Hill, NJ. All three beers are hard to find in the state of New York. A percentage of the evening's proceeds will go towards Brett Epp’s medical costs.
Foley’s is located at 18 West 33rd St. in Manhattan, just two blocks from Penn Station. Kurt Epps’ beer reviews, tips, and adventures can be found at thepubscout.blogspot.com. For more info on attending the event, contact Foley's at (212) 290-0080.