Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s fundraiser breaks 3,075 boards to benefit Warm the Children

  • Mike Audet breaks a board at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s break-athon fundraiser for Warm the Children on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • The pile of broken boards at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s break-athon fundraiser for Warm the Children on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • The pile of broken boards at Saturday’s break-athon at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • A child breaks a board with a heel strike at Saturday’s break-athon fundraiser for Warm the Children at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Quin Audet, 6, breaks a board at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s break-athon fundraiser for Warm the Children on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 11/21/2021 5:03:58 PM
Modified: 11/21/2021 5:03:43 PM

GREENFIELD — Students at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center on Saturday took on the formidable challenge of breaking 3,075 boards in the name of charity.

Seasoned instructors coached both children and adults through the annual break-athon fundraiser, working as a team to chop through a studio full of 1-inch-thick boards with their hands, feet, elbows and knees. Aside from the good will of benefiting the Greenfield Recorder’s Warm the Children clothing charity by inviting donations and pledges, participating martial artists appeared to enjoy themselves as they built a formidable pile of split planks.

Building upon a 19-year tradition that has amassed a total of $95,854 thus far, the organization is hopeful that adding up this year’s donations will yield a total that eclipses a $100,000 cumulative goal.

“Step up, use your heel, foot right in the middle, kihap!” instructor Mikele Deziell said, coaching a child through breaking a board with a tactically positioned strike.

The majority of participants at the event were “white belts” — novices in the martial arts. Owner and instructor David Johnson said these martial artists, all regulars at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center, had never broken a single board until the Wednesday before the break-athon.

“Tae kwon do is 90% technique and 10% surprise,” Johnson said, relishing the success of his inexperienced pupils. “I’m very proud of them, as you can tell.”

“That power was wonderful!” Deziell exclaimed in response to another child’s kick.

The children maintained their energy throughout the morning. Many were vocally passionate, letting out an empowered yell each time they struck through a board.

“I like the feel,” Quin Audet, 6, said about breaking the boards. “It makes me feel like breaking more.”

Children weren’t the only martial artists enjoying the break-athon. Quin’s father, Mike Audet, took up tae kwon do recently when Quin expressed the desire to try.

“I asked Quin if this is something he’d be interested in doing and we signed up together,” Audet said. “It’s just a really fun thing to do together and a really good chance to connect.”

Johnson admired the diverse demographic of people who filled the studio while sharing a common interest. He drew a connection between the diversity in the room and the people the break-athon serves.

“Different genders, different ethnicities … those are the same people we’re trying to help,” he said.

Johnson also noted that the culture embodied by tae kwon do generally aligns with the goals of Warm the Children. He referenced a poster displayed on the wall that highlights the five tenets of tae kwon do: courtesy, perseverance, integrity, indomitable spirit and self-control.

“That’s where it starts to tie in,” Johnson said. “Those are the philosophical cornerstones that we adhere to.”

He made clear that these cornerstones are not lost among his pupils and peers.

“I tell them all the time,” he said, “that it’s all about what’s in your mind, the strength in your body and the goodness in your heart.”

To send a tax-deductible donation, checks may be made out to “Warm the Children” c/o The Greenfield Recorder, P.O. Box 1367, Greenfield, MA 01301. (Donations sent directly to the Recorder will go toward Warm the Children, but will not be counted toward the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s fundraising tally. Checks supporting the dojo’s fundraising total, also made out to “Warm the Children,” are mailed to the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center, 102 Federal St., Greenfield, MA 01301.)

Additionally, the pieces of wood that are broken during the break-athon are bagged up and sold for use as kindling in wood-burning stoves at $5 per bag. This money also goes to benefit Warm the Children. Bags of kindling can be reserved now by calling the studio at 413-774-5395.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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