A silent history of giving
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Before the Candelas Music and Arts Foundation was a reality, its founder Tomas Delgado was viewed as a business owner, instrument maker, and family man. Just these responsibilities alone are enough to exhaust anyones will to donate their precious free time. Nevertheless, there was a special cause he silently participated in for over 30 years.
Candelario, his father, trained him to box which led him to become a certified trainer. Beginning in the 1970s, together they trained LAPD and Sheriff officers for exhibition matches and tournaments to raise money for cancer research. Sadly his father Candelario would pass from cancer. Tomas continued the tradition by himself eventually being named head boxing coach for LAPD.
Back in the 1980s here in Boyle Heights, positive opportunities for young men with troubled pasts were scarce. Clashes with law enforcement were a daily reality for them. Two groups completely at odds. Candelas Guitars was always a beacon for the arts and a unifying space for everyone, including these two groups. The young men saw the guitar shop as a sanctuary they trusted and respected. The two groups were already linked through music and their love for the shop. Exposing young men to boxing could give them an excuse to work together and fight a real common enemy: cancer. Ultimately, changing the stereotype that they were an illness to begin with.
After chatting with a few officers, Tomas had a crew willing to become boxing coaches. Getting these young men to walk into a room full of officers would be impossible. Knowing this, very clear rules were set. The officers were asked not to identify themselves as anything but trainers and the young men were asked to leave any "baggage" at the door. Everyone was here for boxing, fighting cancer, and nothing else.
Proudly, two of them even pursed a life in law enforcement returning to serve their neighborhoods.
Below is a letter from retired officer George Lopez that summarizes how these efforts raised $1,000,000 for cancer research.
The Candelas Music and Arts Foundation continues the tradition of providing a space for unifying everyone. By using music and the arts to unify all people, we hope they will unite to fight common enemies as well.
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