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Long Island Fight for Charity

Rhonda Klch stepping into the ring again to raise money for charity

Mike Murphy, a boxing trainer, poses for a photo with Rhonda Klch. Photo from Klch

Don’t let her 4-foot, 11-inch stature fool you — Rhonda Klch is a force to be reckoned with.

This Long Island native, who was born in Smithtown and lives in Miller Place, opened her first business, American Investors and Collectors, at the age of 19, and saved up enough money from that business to purchase three houses when she was only 23 years old. Now, nearly two decades later, this mother of five runs her own business in the mortgage industry, caters to her family and finds the time to give back to her community through the five charities she is involved in.

As part of giving back, Klch joined Long Island Fight for Charity, and is putting on some boxing gloves and plans to step into the ring, again — a notion that was out of Klch’s comfort zone.

“[I] knew it would grab the attention in the business community,” Klch said when asked why she joined the charity, which provides money to organizations like Long Island Community Foundation, a nonprofit that connects donors with charitable organizations within their community, and PinkTie.org., a network of real estate professionals that raise funds for breast cancer research. “[It] became a buzz, which allowed me to express and to advocate for what the charities were doing.”

Klch trained and fought for the organization last year, raising $3,800. Although she is currently nursing a minor injury, she is accepting donations while she hopes to compete in her next match for Long Island Fight for Charity scheduled for Nov. 23.

Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR
Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR

Klch is now the president and CEO of her company, Equity First, which assists business residents who are experiencing financial difficulties. She established her current business in October 2003, but her goal wasn’t simply to make money and grow her demanding business, it was also to give back to her community — starting with those experiencing financial hiccups.

“There’s a bunch of people who have amazing resources,” Klch said. “If you’re not utilizing your resources for good, it goes to waste.”

Around seven years ago, Klch became more involved in community service. She worked alongside Building Hope, a charity that renovates the homes of families facing a crisis — families who may need wheelchair ramps in their homes upon a devastating injury were accommodated. But renovating the homes wasn’t an issue for these families, sustaining the home was the issue. According to Klch, no one checked the financial status of these families — some families risked losing the home following the renovations. Now Klch’s company conducts financial reviews for these families to ensure they don’t lose the house.

“Her commitment to giving back to her community is second to none,” Mark Legaspi said about Klch. “She really thinks of other people before she thinks of herself.”

Legaspi is the president of Legaspi Associates Inc, which aims to provide quality service regarding life insurance. Legaspi is also a board member, alongside Klch, for a veteran-minded charity called Easter Seals.

When Klch first decided to become involved with Long Island Fight for Charity, her family thought she was crazy.

“You don’t want to watch somebody get hurt,” said Klch’s husband Stephen. “But at the same time, because it was for charity … it’s not to bash somebody, but the concern was there because it’s a real fight.”

Klch and her husband got married 16 years ago. For several years, Klch was the main breadwinner, while her husband catered to the kids. According to Stephen Klch, he left his job and didn’t have to worry about hiring a babysitter to help look after their children. Now he works for his wife’s company, handling the budget and fixing up the homes.

While giving back to the community was important to Klch’s wife, helping others became a family affair as the children got older.

“We kind of live in a bubble,” Klch said. “We want them to have a reality check on what is in their neighborhood and what other families are struggling through.”

According to Stephen Klch, his children partake in events like Equity First’s project called Holiday Dreams. The company established the initiative last year and aims to provide holiday cheer to homeless children or those in transition. This year will be the second time the company is holding the event. Last year, they helped 200 children. This year, the company is committed to helping 250 children and 50 veterans, according to Rhonda Klch.

From her business to her family life and participation in several charities, Klch credits time management and delegation skills for her ability to balance her busy life. Her nonstop attitude when taking on and executing projects is one reason Maria Frey, president and founder of Executive Consultants of New York, clicked with Klch.

Frey said people like Klch show that there are still people who care about those around them.

“[Rhonda] solidifies to me that there are other people in the community who want to make a change and want to help, and she is definitely one of them,” Frey said. “I feel honored to know her.”

Sinai ‘The Mountain’ Megibow is going to step into the ring for charity. Photo from Jen Vaglica

This charity packs a punch.

In this corner, Commack native Sinai “The Mountain” Megibow, 41, is one of 20 determined volunteers who will be boxing for charity this Nov. 23 for the 12th annual Long Island Fight for Charity. The mission is to raise money for local charities by putting volunteers from around the Island in the ring for head-to-head fights in front of spectators who buy tickets for the event.

Megibow, who lives in Commack with his wife and three daughters, said he is eager to contribute to the greater community of Long Island.

He is a founding partner of Radius Investigations, a specialized private investigative and security-consulting firm in Melville. He is also a member of the Nassau County Bar Association and a member of the Long Island Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

“I have very much wanted to get involved in something fun for the community,” Megibow said in a phone interview, adding that he felt this was the perfect event.

Every boxer is required to raise $5,000 for multiple charities including the Long Island Community Chest, The Genesis School and the National Foundation for Human Potential. But if they raise more than the minimum, contestants can send half of the excess funding to a charity of their choice.

Megibow said he has his eyes set on the Michael Magro Foundation if he is able to raise more than $5,000. The foundation focuses on bettering the lives of children with cancer as well as other chronic pediatric illnesses.

A scene from a previous Long Island Fight for Charity event. Photo from Long Island Fight for Charity
A scene from a previous Long Island Fight for Charity event. Photo from Long Island Fight for Charity

“I am far from an expert in boxing,” he said. “I’m much more an enthusiast. But I do very much enjoy training in martial arts, and I have done a little bit of kickboxing as well.”

In fact, Megibow said he is more anxious about raising the amount of funds he needs than he is for the actual fight.

“[My wife is] more nervous about raising the money as well, but I’ve got a pretty big support group,” Megibow said.

Each person who buys a ticket for the event also has to choose one fighter to support. For this fight, Megibow said he hopes he can garner some sponsors from larger clients and pair that with help from his family and friends.

Each boxer is also required to undergo a certain amount of training before they can step into the ring. Trained boxers volunteer their time to help get each contestant into fighting shape, according to Megibow.

Although he doesn’t have any strategies yet aside from training as much as possible, once it’s determined who he will fight against, he said he’ll start to think more about how to approach his opponent. For example, if his opponent is taller than him, he’ll focus on low strikes.

As for Megibow’s fight name, The Mountain, it’s a direct reference to his first name, Sinai — after Mount Sinai, the mountain that he was named after.

“This is a great organization — as much money as possible goes straight to the charities they’re involved with, and I’m excited about it,” he said. “I think the fight itself is going to be fun.”

Although the fight is going to be on a little too late for Megibow’s kids, he said he’s hoping to set them up with the pay-per-view channel that will be airing the fight, so that “they can watch their dad get beat up,” Megibow said.

One of 20 Long Island business professionals gearing up for annual Long Island Fight for Charity in November

Rhonda Klch gloves up for last year’s Long Island Fight for Charity. This year, Klch will head back into the ring for the charity match, which raises money for the Long Island Community Chest. Photo from Corbett PR

By Rachel Siford

Mount Sinai’s Rhonda “Master of Financial Disaster” Klch is heading back into the ring on Nov. 23, 2015, for her second Long Island Fight for Charity match.

Klch is the founder and CEO of Equity First, LLC, a financial advising firm based in Coram. She started the company in 2004.

The charity boxing match raises money for the Long Island Community Chest, a nonprofit organization that provides short-term financial support to needy families and individuals who have suffered a crisis. Last year, Klch left her match victorious.

Klch was inspired to participate in the fight when she heard the money was going to the Community Chest. More than $850,000 has been donated to Long Island charities since its inception 12 years ago.

“Due to the fact that my firm works heavily in budget planning and helping clients that are in financial distress, I felt it was very close to what we do,” Klch said.

Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR
Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR

Preparing for the match takes time. Fight for Charity requires all participants get a physical exam. Fighters also have to check in at certified gyms to track how much they are training. Boxers typically need to complete three to four days of cardio a week, with two or more days of sparring.

Klch will have to wait until September to find out who she will be fighting on the night of the event.

“Right now, I have to train like I’m going to get my butt kicked,” Klch said smiling. “I have no idea who it is going to be yet.”

Klch and her company try to get involved with many organizations.

Equity First is also involved with The Starkey Hearing Foundation, which supplies hearing aides to those who can’t afford them, and Pink Tie, a cancer research fundraiser. Last year, the company sponsored 160 children from the Longwood community who were either homeless or in transient housing and provided them with their holiday gifts. Klch is also on the Friends of Karen, which supports critically ill children and their families, Long Island advisory board.

“We have a pretty good corporate culture here,” Klch said. “Everyone wants to chip in and help out; it’s almost a prerequisite for their employment.”

Prior to founding Equity First, Klch was a branch manager for First West Mortgage Bankers. She actually started Equity First as a side business while still working at the bank.

“I’m just very entrepreneurial by nature,” Klch said. “I feel like I am a good leader and I like having my own concepts and being able to see them through from start to finish.”

Klch said staying involved with charities helps people learn about their communities and issues they may not have realized existed.

“You just never know enough about yourself until you put yourself into an uncomfortable position,” Klch said. “You’ll never grow if you never go out of your comfort zone.”

For more information on the event go to www.lifightforcharity.org.