By SHERIDAN CYR
Young martial arts students at Leadership Martial Arts in Plantsville took on the challenge of performing 1,000 kicks in an hour to raise money for Kids Kicking Cancer during the 2018 national Kick-A-Thon Competition on Sunday, March 18. Kids Kicking Cancer is a nonprofit organization that provides weekly martial arts classes and support for children battling cancer.
Head instructor and owner of Leadership Martial Arts, Rick Griffin, was inspired by the organization, teaching kids to work through the pain while enhancing their mental and physical strength.
“These are young kids who certainly didn’t ask for this illness,” Griffin said. “The funds we raise for the organization will help them with treatments and help them power through their sickness, and to help them find their mental ‘toughness’ that we associate with martial arts.”
Fourteen students lined up in front of Griffin, eager for action and ready to help. Griffin had planned a lesson for students ahead of time, doing sets of different styles of kicks until each student had performed 1,000 kicks. Parents and guardians cheered the students from the sidelines.
Kids Kicking Cancer was founded by Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, a first degree black belt in Choi Kwang Do. Goldberg lost his first child to leukemia at age two. Since then, the Rabbi has committed to fight to ease the pain of sick children facing pain and discomfort from any illness. His dream of bringing healing through the empowering focus of martial arts resulted in the creation of Kids Kicking Cancer in 1999.
The organization provides a number of services including free martial arts classes and uniforms, relaxation and meditation training for children and siblings, home visits, individual support during clinical procedures and hospitalizations, special family outings, sibling support programs, counseling and much more.
During the Kick-A-Thon, parents could donate “per kick” or donate a flat fee to Kids Kicking Cancer.
“Performing martial arts is not just a way to improve physical fitness,” Griffin said. “It teaches us valuable life lessons like how to stand up for ourselves, to be perseverant, to respect and to help others. We strive to live the lifestyle that we teach here.”
One student, Abby Ferrucci, age seven, was excited to take part in the Kick-A-Thon for the first time.
“I am going to help raise money for other kids like me,” said Ferrucci before the challenge began. “I like martial arts because I like to defend myself, and it’s fun to do.”
Ferrucci has been a student at Leadership Martial Arts for almost a year and is a purple belt holder.
Donations can be made to Kids Kicking Cancer at any time by visiting their website, kidskickingcancer.org.
Leadership Martial Arts offers kids martial arts classes, fitness kickboxing, summer camp and hosts birthday parties. The facility is located at 1156 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike.
For more information, call (860) 426-3198 or visit online at www.leadershipmartialartsct.com.
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI