By Blake Ashley Frino-Gerl

Fundraising for a good cause brings light to where help is needed, and at the same time creates a sense of community. Bryan Way, Morro Bay Life’s May person spotlight and owner of American Karate School, hosted the annual fundraiser with and to help support Project Surf Camp (PSC) on April 22. 

PSC, founded by John Taylor, uses surfing and other ocean activities as an educational tool to build self-confidence, along with physical and mental progress in individuals with special needs. In 2007, Taylor’s child was a karate student and Way was asked if he and his older students would like to be counselors for a day at PSC and they agreed. Remembering a fundraiser called a kick-a-thon when he was a student, Way “saw the opportunity to raise funds and promote a local nonprofit, and teach my students how to give back as well,” he says. From there the annual kick-a-thon fundraiser began. “John Taylor is such an amazing person and is the biggest inspiration and reason we do this event,” Way says. 

The fundraiser welcomes the karate school’s students to raise money for PSC, and then show off their skills at the event. Students get their hands wrapped, stretch, and then are divided into groups to which they rotate through four stations: punches, front kicks, sidekicks, and push-up/sit-ups. Students perform at these stations for 10 minutes straight to do as many punches and kicks as possible, with five minutes each to do the sit-up and push-up station, and a five-minute break in between each.

Students are “challenged physically against themselves and their friends, plus they get to show off some of their skills with our board-breaking demonstration,” Way says. “On top of raising money for a great cause, I love this event because it builds community both within the community and within the school. It allows all my students of all ages and belt ranks to work on something together.” The students work for something that helps others, but also gives them the ability to work to raise some funds that can help them pay for karate summer camp or other karate needs. 

The kick-a-thon has become a real communal effort with parents volunteering to work each station, as well as bring snacks and provide for the bake sale, all the while PSC provides hot dogs and pizzas for lunch. 

Way says, “Thank you to all the parents and families that support my little school.”