Bethesda Man Will Box To Raise Money for The Children's Inn at NIH

Bethesda Man Will Box To Raise Money for The Children’s Inn at NIH

First-time boxer Mike Dendas is raising money in honor of his late cousin

| Published:
150525_0108

Mike Dendas

Rachel Gianatasio

When Mike Dendas’ teenage cousin was battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer, he said, The Children’s Inn at NIH was a “saving grace.”

Dendas has been giving back to the organization, a residential facility for children with serious illnesses and their families, for more than a decade. A boxing match he will be in on Thursday is his biggest commitment to The Inn yet.

National nonprofit Haymakers for Hope organizes matches for first-time boxers to raise money for the cancer organization of their choosing.

“It’s definitely a new way to go about things, which helps with fundraising,” Dendas said. “Would you give me 25 bucks to run a 5K? Well, then give me $125 to actually box.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Dendas had raised nearly $20,000 for The Inn. His original fundraising goal was $5,000.

Most of his fundraising comes from individual donors, but Dendas received $5,000, his largest donation to date, from Arlington-based DFS Construction.

For four months, Dendas, 37, has trained at Urban Boxing in Bethesda three days a week at 5 a.m. “I played football in college,” he said. “But this is just an entirely new thing.”

“It took months to get to the point where I could be in the ring for two minutes,” said Dendas, who works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Children's Inn WINNter Affair Pic
Mike Dendas (left) and his family at The Inn’s 2019 WINNter Affair

Dendas and his extended family were living in Connecticut when his cousin, Lizzie Schwanfelder, was first diagnosed with clear cell carcinoma. “We had Yale right in our backyard and she could not get any of the treatments or they couldn’t figure it out,” Dendas said.

The Schwanfelders were referred to The Children’s Inn at NIH in Bethesda, which had just opened its doors a few years earlier. “They had way more expertise with the type of disease my cousin was dealing with,” Dendas said.

Dendas remembers hearing about The Inn during his cousin’s year of treatment. “At The Inn, my parents and her family were able to spend time with [Lizzie] in a comfortable setting.”

“It wasn’t like she was just sitting in a hospital bed or waiting for the next treatment or waiting for the next trial,” Dendas said. “She was making friends and she was kind of living her life there while she went through all this.”

Schwanfelder lost her nearly decade-long battle to cancer in 1993. “It was a very traumatic thing for our family,” Dendas said. “She was a very special kid and it sucked.”

The 6’3″, 210-pound Dendas will fight at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.

Hello, FB! I have signed myself up for a charity boxing event to benefit the The Children's Inn at NIH I was going to run a marathon or do a golf tournament but this feels like the safest route. Please check out my "fight page" https://haymakersforhope.org/event/washington-dc/2019/beltway-brawl/mike-dendas PLEASE donate and buy tickets, I will feel a lot better about getting KO'd if I can help raise a bunch of money for the best cause. Obviously, the promo code is "Dendas," to buy tickets…its@ The Anthem too, which will be awesome.

Posted by Michael Dendas on Friday, July 26, 2019

Leigh McDonald can be reached at leigh.mcdonald@bethesdamagazine.com.

Back to Bethesda Beat >>

Social Media Coordinator |

The Kennedy Center

School Bus Driver |

Rochambeau, The French International School

Donor Communications And Reporting Manager |

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Administrative and Publications Manager |

National Association of Surety Bond Producers

Resident Services Manager |

The Ford Agency

Academic Technologist |

Lowell School

Leading Professionals »

Newsletters

Dining Guide