Updated: Feb 28, 2022
By Rochelle Brenner
Terri was grinning. The woman who counted for her was gushing. And their instructor was beaming.
“I just turned 60. I had 14 knee operations and I did 368 kicks,” proclaimed Terri. She had 10 minutes to do as many kicks as she could, a challenge issued this week to all of the students at Action Karate Mt. Airy.
“She was focusing on her technique. Every single kick was sharp, had a snap to it, had the 4 parts,” said head instructor Tim Wetzel.
Kicking for 10 minutes, at a hyper-speed pace, is intense for anyone at any age. Action Mt. Airy students, ages 3 and up, competed in the Action Scholarship Kick-a-thon to raise money for the 501c3 non-profit that helps provide martial arts training to students and communities that cannot afford it.
The first annual Kick-a-Thon was a huge success- - and not in the way you usually judge fundraiser events. We were surprised at how much it energized our classes, invigorated students of all ages and pressed students well beyond what they thought they could do.
“I am super amazed at Ms. Keen. She’s one of our brand new black belts,” Wetzel said. Ms. Francine Keen did the Kick-a-thon challenge several times this week, waking up sore, trying to increase her total tally each day. And she’s pushing 70 years old.
She started at 265 kicks then 400, 465, 600, then 680. And she was already happy at 265.
One of the after school students, Griffin, looked like he had just seen a ghost. “I hit my goal. 900 kicks.”
An 8-year-old who has been training since she was a pre-school aged ninja, told her mom the next day, “It hurts to walk.”
It’s so good for them to feel what it’s like to push themselves to the point of pain – and keep going. Everyone was doing their absolute maximum. They rallied friends and relatives to sponsor their efforts, and had people cheering for them from around the country. The Kick-a-thon came with the seriousness of a tournament but instead of competing for medals, it was for personal glory. Parents counted their kids kicks and walked off the mat stunned at the totals, and maybe a little exhausted just from watching.
We don’t know how much we raised yet, other than our own skills and abilities, but we know that the coalition of participating schools brought in funds in the thousands. We will have a total in the next week or two once all the sponsorship money comes in (It’s due by March 4.)
“This Kick-a-thon has been a super amazing opportunity, a great way to raise funds for ASF and help kids to take karate,” Wetzel said.
The instructors also went intense in their internal competition for reigning champion, beating each other’s records as the week went on. Wetzel’s family claimed the crown late in the week with his son hitting the top score of 1,100, pending official review by the Kick-a-Thon Olympic Committee and an official challenge from Roman, who had the early win with 1,030 kicks.