After Stowell lost her daughter, Carly, to an unexpected arrhythmia in 2007, she thought she would not survive her grief. It never crossed her mind that she might be guided through grief by the empowering tenets of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). Yet, a year after she lost her daughter, Stowell found a local BJJ gym that provided the exact support she needed to navigate her journey to recovery.
Stowell’s story has resonated with members of not only the martial arts community, but also with those grieving the loss of a loved one and those seeking inspiration. The connection with these groups hasn’t stopped at the border as her recent trip has shown. “Many people in Brazil have lost children to poverty, crime, and drugs. So many people want to read her book, not just people in BJJ,” said Jean Carlos Freitas, a BJJ Professor from Rio de Janeiro and family friend.
In addition to helping Stowell heal, Flowing with the Go has become a gateway to helping local Seattle youth as well as those in Brazil. Stowell and her husband, Chuck, started a nonprofit organization in Carly’s name in 2007, The Carly Stowell Foundation (http://carlystowellfoundation.countmein.com/
While in Brazil, Stowell had the opportunity to share her story with some charitable groups. One such group is Top Brother Jiu-Jitsu. Athletes from Top Brother volunteer to teach BJJ to needy children from the favelas in Rio. They also collect used gis (BJJ apparel) and food for donation to the families. Since Jiu-jitsu became the sport that renewed Stowell’s love of life, she has wanted to give back. On September 15, The Carly Stowell Foundation sponsored a Top Brother jiu-jitsu tournament for the favela children. Over 350 children participated. Top Brother coach and tournament organizer Mestre Cezar Guimaraes shared with Stowell, “Thank you. Today you did make a lot of happy people. I am happy that many needy children will have medals, hot dogs, soda, and cake. A great day of fighting [jiu-jitsu] and a feast. I want to thank you for everything. Be with God.”
When she wasn’t participating in the book fair and meeting other charities, Stowell spent some time training at BJJ gyms in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. “I met several world champions. Jiu-jitsu is a culture in Brazil. They train hard . . . all the time.” At one gym she sparred with a black belt who had just won a gold medal at the Rio Open. “My greatest moment was when I successfully jumped guard,” she said with a laugh.
Stowell hopes to grow The Carly Stowell Foundation partnership in Brazil through book sales in the United States and in Brazil. Both the English and Portuguese versions of the book are now available to order through BQB Publishing’s online store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore. The eBook is also available through several major electronic readers including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and more. Booksellers can order the book in either language through Ingram and Baker & Taylor or New Leaf Distributing Company.
About the Author
Elena Stowell, a high school biology and AP biology teacher with a master’s degree in animal science, lives with her family in Kent, Washington. Elena’s daughter died in April of 2007 and Elena was devastated as any mother would be. The rest of her life became about surviving the grief. With the support and encouragement of her family and friends, she took a first step off of the couch and back into life. Needing an outlet for the suffocating turmoil of emotions that losing a child causes, Elena found Foster Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She learned that, like many martial arts, jiu-jitsu had a spiritual aspect and would provide the guidance she needed to work through her grief. To learn more about Elena, visit www.elena-stowell.com.
About BQB Publishing
Founded in August of 2010, BQB was created to be “the writer’s publisher,” focusing on quality writing from new authors. An independent hybrid publisher, BQB combines the quality processes of traditional publishing with hands-on author involvement to bring today’s new writers and tomorrow’s best sellers into the hands of booksellers and the reading public. To learn more about BQB, visit www.bqbpublishing.com.