If pure exuberance was to be personified, it would almost certainly take the form of the man known as Cody Deaner. Though his recent – and excellent – on-screen turn may showcase a different side of him, the IMPACT Wrestling star is truly one of the good guys of wrestling. His enthusiasm for both the industry and the people within it knows no bounds, and few, if any, would argue that Deaner is an asset to any promotion, locker room, or television program.
For all of his accomplishments inside the squared circle, however, no championship or award can compare to the incredible work Deaner has done outside of the ring through his charitable endeavor, Giv’er for Charity.
“‘Giv’er for Charity‘ is a fundraising campaign aimed at raising money for a variety of amazing Canadian charities,” states the official Giv’er for Charity website. “Cody Deaner partners with various charities who are in need of funds and helps them raise money selling merchandise at his professional wrestling events and speaking engagements. Cody then donates 100% of the proceeds to the charity of choice.”
Though the comparison may be a lofty one to make considering that the Port Bruce, Ontario native has picked up over 15 titles throughout his career, it’s one that makes his dedication to his charitable work all the more impressive.
“Just because of the nature of independent wrestling and the way it is, I was just meeting a lot of kids,” Deaner commented when we spoke late last year. “I think it has something to do with the fact that I love kids, and I approach wrestling remembering what I loved about it as a kid. I think young children are drawn to that.”
“I do [the fundraisers] alongside my fans and kids that I’ve made a connection with,” he continues. “We raise money for causes that are important to them (and) things that have helped them out in their life.”
Since founding Giv’er for Charity, Deaner has used his platform to raise thousands for charities including the Landsdown Children’s Centre and the Rumball Camp for the Deaf.
“I started in 2018, and to date, I’ve raised over $16,000 for different charities,” he concludes. “That is not something that I planned or really expected to happen.”
“But, it’s something that really motivates me.”
A First Public Foray
Though Giv’er for Charity was born over three years ago, Deaner first forayed outside of the professional wrestling sphere four years prior to that with his first public speaking engagement.
“A former teacher, a former coach of mine that coached basketball to me in high school, asked me if I would come and speak at my old high school,” Deaner reminisced. “They were having this conference and they knew I was well-spoken just from wrestling, and also remembered me from high school. They knew that was in me, and just asked me to do [it]. It went really well.”
Did it ever. As his former coach had surmised, Deaner was a natural.
There are few differences between a Cody Deaner speaking event and the Cody Deaner you see in professional wrestling, save for the wrestling itself; much like you see weekly on IMPACT, his sheer zest for life and boundless enthusiasm can take even the meekest of audiences from silence to a full-blown uproar in a matter of minutes.
In fact, he says, the worlds of pro wrestling and public speaking comparable are comparable in more ways than one.
“The same way there’s a world of wrestling, there’s a whole circuit of public speaking, and there’s speakers that do it for a living,” Deaner laughed. “They asked me to come back again. Then, I got asked to go to another school, [and] I just kind of started to snowball. I started to get to know people. I just started to network the exact same way I did when I got into wrestling, and all the skills that I had learned for networking and building my brand that I did in wrestling, I applied it to speaking.”
His efforts paid off in spades. Soon, Deaner found himself as in-demand for his speaking appearances as he was for his professional wrestling. Not only did it allow him to continue to partake in his love of travel – “I’m a road warrior,” he comments – but it also allowed him the opportunity to interact with more of the fans he holds so close to his heart.
“Kids are drawn to me when I go into a room, whether it’s speaking at an elementary school or when I go down to the ring,” commented Deaner. “I’ve just been meeting a lot of really interesting kids through my travels: kids that have had a rough go in life, kids that are deaf, or kids that have special needs, or kids that are autistic, and I have so many stories of just these kids that I’ve made a connection with.”
“I just kind of got this idea one day that I want to give back to those kids somehow.”
Giv’er for Charity
Deaner’s vision began to take form in 2018 in the founding of his own charity.
Well, kind of.
“[Giv’er for Charity] is something that just kind of happened by accident,” states Deaner. “I didn’t want to start my own charity, because there’s already so many great charities out there, I just decided to kind of be the middleman fundraiser for all these amazing charities that are already happening across Canada. My idea was like, if we can just raise a couple hundred bucks for a couple charities, that would be great and maybe keep this connection with these kids.”
The first charity Deaner took the opportunity to support was a local Special Olympics powerlifting team. Deaner’s fundraising began with selling merchandise at the pro wrestling shows he would appear on. “Sometimes I would go to the show and rather than thinking about how many t-shirts can I sell at the merch table, I was like ‘how much money do you think I can raise at the show?'” he states.
The experience was cathartic, to say the least. Of course, the impact of the funds raised was evident, but it was the experience of meeting those impacted that truly hit home for the IMPACT star.
“I raised [funds] for their team and actually dropped the money off at one of their practices,” reminisced Deaner. “We all lifted weights together and they all enjoyed showing off for me and displaying their strength on the bench press.”
“It was so awesome. They were so appreciative of the money I raised for them and so appreciated me showing up to hang out with them. It was pretty special.”
It was the first of many. Since launching his charity, Deaner has impacted countless lives through both raising funds and directly impacting lives with his public speaking, including his compatriots inside of professional wrestling.
“I’ve had many fellow wrestlers tell me they are inspired by my charity efforts,” Deaner begins. “And, I’ve had a few anonymous wrestlers donate VERY generous amounts of money to both the Rumball Camp for the Deaf and to the Community Living Centre in Oshawa.”
“I was blown away by their generosity. And it just confirmed what I’ve known for many years… wrestlers are a tight-knit family that will really band together when there’s a worthy cause.”
And, of course, every dollar raised comes with a story. When it comes to charitable endeavours, every tale told is sure to tug at the heartstrings. Some, however, just hit a little closer to home.
“I met this young fan, his name’s Christopher, and he’s deaf,” Deaner comments, slipping into full storyteller mode. “The first time I met him, we had a great conversation at the merchandise table. His dad was having to do some sign language for him. I talked to him and I said, ‘hey, let’s do some work together, Christopher. Is there any charities that you know of?’ He told me about an amazing place called the Rumball Camp for the Deaf. It’s a summer camp that gives these kids an amazing experience. Kids from across Canada and not all kids could afford to go. So, me and Christopher raised money so that more kids could go to the summer camp.”
He laughs before continuing.
“I started raising this money for the Rumball Camp for the Deaf,” Deaner reminisces, “I met Derek Rumball, who’s the son of [Camp for the Deaf founder] Bob Rumball. [Derek] says to me ‘I think it’s really special that I’m doing some fundraising with you and you’re connected with this camp. It’s really cool. It makes me feel like my dad.’ I’m like ‘okay, what do you mean? Was your dad a wrestling fan?’ He goes, ‘oh, moreso!'”
“The person who helped my dad start the Rumball Camp for the Deaf was Whipper Billy Watson.”
To Deaner, the association with the Canadian wrestling legend was yet another sign that he was heading in the right direction.
“That was like the universe speaking to me and telling me how I’m doing the right thing, man. I’m doing the right thing. So the Rumball Camp for the Deaf has a special place in my heart.”
However, even when aligned with a literal icon, Deaner is clear-eyed about who Giv’er for Charity is all about.
“I mean,’ he finishes, “seeing young fans and being able to help out some kids that are in need, it really puts things in perspective.”
Cody Deaner can be found online on Twitter (@CodyDeaner), Instagram (@CodyDeaner), and Facebook (Cody.Deaner). More information on Giv’er for Charity and Cody Deaner’s wrestling career can be found at CodyDeaner.com.
Please credit Spencer Love/Love Wrestling with any transcriptions used.