Friday, November 28, 2008
A long long time ago when I was just starting out in martial arts I competed on the same local martial arts circuit as Craig Marks. Mr. Marks is now an instuctor at Gerald R. Ford Job Corp. To make a long story short, Mr. Marks was recently reading about me on the internet and invited me to speak and perform at Job Corp for his students. When I was there, I was introduced to Jean Pierre- a truly amazing human being who is beautiful, inside and out despite the difficulty life has presented him with.
We always have a houseful on Thanksgiving. Mom cooks too much, we all eat too much, get fat, and have lots of fun! This year was no different. We had all the usual crowd, but this time, we added someone very special. Everyone, Meet Jean Pierre! He is from Rwanda-Africa. When he was very young he lost most of his family to war. He came to the United States as a refugee when he was sixteen but really doesn't have a family. Well,it wasn't long and little brother took care of that! Noah has always felt outnumbered by the girls in the family. Even the cats and dogs are girls! He has always wanted a brother. After they hung out together for just a little while, it was unofficially official. Noah had adopted Jean Pierre and Mom wasn't far behind! Now he has a family, and we have a big brother! We're all Thankful to have Jean Pierre!
One thing leads to another and it all happens according to what God has planned.
POSITIVE, CARING, POSITIVE, CONFIDENCE, POSITIVE, RESPECT, POSITIVE, HONOR, POSITIVE, DEDICATION, POSITIVE, DISCIPLINE, POSITIVE, ENCOURAGEMENT, POSITIVE!
I think you can see where I'm headed with this!
On Tuesday, I had the honor of performing for and speaking to the students and martial arts family of Bedard Martial Arts Black Belt Center. It is a family owned and operated school. Grand Master Marcel Bedard, Mrs. Bedard, and 2nd Degree Black Belt Dennis Bedard are clearly dedicated to teaching all ages and especially children through positive interaction, reinforcement, and encouragement. I was invited to watch their very first belt testing in the new school and I was so impressed with the way in which each student was treated. Traditionally, proper technique is critical in early testing. Here, students are praised for their courage and confidence and for finishing what they started. Masters and teachers praise each individuals strong features and teach and direct without the pressure of unrealistic expectations. It is recognized when students do their very best and make the effort and try. Do not misinterpret what I'm trying to say. I think we can all agree that there are many "McDojo's" out there that turn out black belts like McDonald's does burgers because the focus is on quantity not quality. Bedard Black Belt Center is not one of them. With the wisdom of Grand Master Bedard to lead them, they are achieving something wonderful. They build amazing athletes with incredible skills (trust me! I saw for myself!) through positive and gentle instruction. Every student took something positive away from their belt testing. Every student felt more confident, more capable, and excited to learn more. A very strong sense of "Family" runs through the Bedard Martial Arts students, instructors, and their families. I wonder if the students and families know what a wonderful gift they have in the patient, gentle wisdom of Grand Master Marcel Bedard and his family. I can't wait to introduce Grand Master Bong Jornales and Grand Master Marcel. Different styles, same gentle yet powerful ways.
PS...I think I forgot to mention the young yellow belt students who jumped several people in a flying side kick to break a board held by Instructor Dennis Bedard all in a very confined space. I WAS STUNNED AND AMAZED at the skill level and control! I won't say "I can't do this...but I will say, I haven't learned this yet!"
Thank you to everyone at Bedards, for sharing your first testing and your martial arts family with me. I look forward to seeing you again in January!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Jared and I
On Friday Nov. 14th, I had the amazing honor of hosting an assembly for Jared Sweet. Jared is a 7 year old first grader at Murray Lake Elementary School(Lowell Schools) with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Together, with the help of the Lowell HS JV Cheerleaders and The Kids on Jared's Team at Murray Lake Elementary, we had an awesome time. I performed twice and got to introduce Jared and talk to over 450 kids, parents, grandparents, and teachers about Jared and his fight against Muscular Dystrophy in an effort to create awareness and help raise much needed funds for research to find a cure.
Jared, Me, the JV Cheer team and the Kids on Jared's team from Murray Lake Elementary school
He may be small, but Jared is the toughest, strongest and bravest boy I know. He's fighting a horrible terrible mean disease and he needs our help.
I know I can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone and one of my favorite things to do is to use the gifts that I have been given to help others, especially kids like Jared who need our love and support the most - it feels good to do my part and you can too!
If you'd like to help Jared in his fight against muscular dystrophy, ASK ME HOW! Sue Sweet(Jared's mom)"All money raised to help Jared will go to PPMD(Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy) to be used to find a cure because that's what Jared needs most- a cure." The Sweet Family in Blue(Jared in front!) Lowell JV Cheerleaders, and me!
Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), is the largest nonprofit organization in the
What is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy? Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood, affecting approximately 1 in every 3,500 live male births (about 20,000 new cases each year). Because the Duchenne gene is found on the X-chromosome, it primarily affects boys; however, it occurs across all races and cultures. Duchenne results in progressive loss of strength and is caused by a mutation in the gene that encodes for dystrophin. Because dystrophin is absent, the muscle cells are easily damaged. The progressive muscle weakness leads to serious medical problems, particularly issues relating to the heart and lungs.
There is no cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.