Thunder Rosa couldn’t stand by and do nothing.
The All Elite Wrestling women’s world champion was speaking to a class of fifth graders in Las Vegas and telling them schools are safe on May 24. An hour later, 19 children and two adults were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas just 45 minutes from her home in San Antonio. She felt compelled to do what she could to help.
“I don’t feel comfortable not doing something for my community,” Rosa said in a Zoom interview.
To aid the victims and families affected by the tragedy, Rosa is auctioning off the full ring gear — with the help Gold & Silver Pawn shop made famous by the show “Pawn Stars” — that she wore for her successful title defense against Serena Deeb at AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view. The winner will get her headpiece, robe, boots and everything else along with an 8×10 photo signed by Rosa, Deeb and referee Aubrey Edwards. The current bid is $5,000 with all proceeds going to the families through Victims First. Bidding closes Friday at 11:59 p.m.
“I know I couldn’t be there physically to tell the families that I feel for them,” Rosa said. “But it’s something, even if it’s a grain of salt, it’s gonna help them.”
The gear being auction has a Day of the Dead — Día de los Muertos in Mexico — theme, and Rosa wrote Uvalde on the large, multicolored “sacred heart” necklace she wore that day because she “wanted to represent those kids and the teachers and the community.” The sacred heart was also a nod to Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, who used the symbol often in her work.
She said her own community in Texas has already mobilized to do what they can, whether it’s collecting Plushies to bring to the families, the local media keeping people up to date about how they can help and having conversations about training for the students and teachers to leave them better protected. Rosa, who has a 16-year-old son in school in Texas, said parents need to be mindful of the training their kids are receiving and the expectations they have for leaders of their school district. In her mind, there should not be a wait to make changes at the grassroots level as the government’s debate on gun laws plays out.
“There are a lot of things that are in a bigger scope that is a lot harder to change,” she said. “We have to change what is immediate for us and we can protect our kids in our communities and our schools.”
Rosa, the first Mexican born woman to win a world title in a major U.S. wrestling promotion, has made community work and helping young people a priority throughout her life. She is active with AEW community outreach team and was a social worker before turning to wrestling full-time. Because of that experience, Rosa doesn’t want people to lose sight of the potential long-term effects on the kids who lived through the shooting, saying that there were people she worked with in the past where “PTSD came back after they were traumatized, five, 10 years after.”
“It’s not a pretty sight,” she said. “They continue to suffer for the rest of their lives and with the families [who lost children], too.”
Rosa said many of the people she helped as a social worker were an inspiration to her wrestling journey as they wrote letters to her telling her to never give up on her dream, just as she told them. It is one of the things that motivates her to keep giving back.
“Seeing that there were some success within the kids that I worked with, I know I left a great impression on them,” Rosa said. “I continue to do that because you never know who you are inspiring and who you’re moving by the things that you’re doing.”
Her hope is that others will be moved to bolster her efforts to help the families in Uvalde by bidding on her gear.
“You get all my love and my gratitude forever,” Rosa said. “And the most important part is you are helping 20 families in Uvalde, Texas that are suffering badly from their losses. That’s the most important part.”
Bid on on Thunder Rosa’s ring gear.