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Fighter team gives wrestling scholarship to CSU-Pueblo

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Colorado State University-Pueblo will receive a wrestling scholarship developed by Steel City Rumble II. The money donated will be given to the scholarship in the name of Gil Padilla, as a tribute from his friends in the mixed martial arts community.

Coach Dax Charles, 37, a CSU-Pueblo alum said that this money will be added to the money already in the wrestling scholarship fund.  He said that the scholarship money is distributed based on a student’s need and ability.

Charles said that there isn’t enough money in the budget to give anyone a full ride scholarship. He looks at students who have the ability to make the team and perform well in matches, as well as students who will maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Armando Chavez, the owner of Team Pueblo, and CSU-Pueblo wrestling head coach, Gabe Charboneau, had been friends with Padilla for many years before his death.  They decided to donate a gift in his name, because they wanted to show him what kind of an impact he had on their lives, Charboneau said. 

“He gave freely of his time and his money,” Charboneau said of Padilla. He recalled a story illustrating this point.

They were at a local chain fast food restaurant when Charboneau saw Padilla “make the sign of the cross and he prayed over his burger.”  

“He said he always gives thanks for anything he receives,” Charboneau said. “I have done it every day since that day back in 2001, and I teach my kids this. That’s the kind of guy Gil was.  That’s why we’re doing this.”

Padilla served on the marketing committee of the Pueblo United Way, as well as being an ambassador for the Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce. He wrestled for Western State, and had a passion for both mixed martial arts and golf.

Andrea Aragon, 37, CSU-Pueblo alum, heads the Pueblo United Way board. She said she knew Padilla for two years, serving on the board with him for a year and a half.  He was spunky and ornery, with an infectious smile, and “has left a big void in our organization,” Aragon said.

“I’m sure he would be really honored to have his legacy passed down through this,” Aragon said.

Charlotte Vasquez, 49, a CSU-Pueblo alum, was married to Padilla for 14 years, and they have an 11 year old son together.

“He was awesome at everything he did,” Vasquez said, “but wrestling was his favorite.”

Vasquez is working on the logistics of creating an annual wrestling scholarship at CSU-Pueblo in the name of Gil Padilla, which she plans to announce for his birthday in May 2009.

The money collected by the United Way at the SteeleCity Rumble II will be included in the donation in the name of Gil Padilla; however, both Charboneau and Vasquez want to emphasize it is not the actual “Gil Padilla scholarship.”