Karate West kicks in $8,000 for Kenyan school

January 11, 2011

By Christopher Huber

By Katya Palladina Kevin Jacobson, with his mother Rachel, shows off his medals for winning second place in sparring and third place in kata.

Randy and Jan Holeman only expected about 125 or so of their students to show up at their December fundraiser tournament at Karate West in Sammamish.

Ultimately, twice that many came to compete and exhibit their self-defense skills Dec. 18.

“It was amazing,” Randy Holeman, Karate West co-owner, said. “We were overwhelmed.”

More than 250 Karate West students competed in an intraschool tournament and raised approximately $8,000 to support a girls school in Kenya. Randy Holeman said the initial goal was to raise $3,000, aiming for $10,000 in a three-event effort. The charity tournament was part of Compassion in Action, a new fundraising and awareness campaign the Sammamish-based martial arts organization started to help the abused and orphaned girls in the Pokot region of Kenya, Jan Holeman said.

“The support of our community of students was overwhelming,” Randy Holeman said. “The outpouring was just phenomenal.”

It was the first charity tournament Karate West held in its training facility, along East Lake Sammamish Parkway. The donations will fund various programs for girls at St. Elizabeth Secondary School in Kenya. The school is being built through a partnership with World Vision, a Federal Way-based international humanitarian organization that works with communities to tackle issues of poverty and injustice.

Participants paid $30 each to enter the martial arts competition, which consisted of sparring bouts, weapons forms (demonstrations) and entertainment, and acrobatlike routines. In addition to the 230 students who signed up for the main tournament, about 80 attended presentations from guest instructors Dec. 17, Randy Holeman said.

“We definitely think we’ll do it again next year,” he said.

Currently under construction, the St. Elizabeth Secondary School will serve about 160 girls who fled their homes to escape harmful and abusive traditional practices and early marriage. They now live in a rescue center, according to a press release from Jan Holeman.

The Holemans decided to host the tournament after they heard about the girls from a friend, Margo Day. Day had returned from an African safari trip with a changed outlook on life, according to the press release, and had since headed the efforts to build the school, which will open in May.

Randy and Jan Holeman founded Karate West in 1989 in Issaquah. The Holemans moved the facility to its current location in Sammamish in 1995 and eventually opened a second facility on Mercer Island. The schools have about 1,000 members, according to the Karate West website.

Randy, a fifth-degree black belt, has trained more than 520 students to achieve the rank of black belt, the website said. The Holemans have also supported Sammamish organizations like the Joshua P. Williams Foundation, International Smile Power and Compassion2One.

How to help

Donate to the St. Elizabeth Secondary School.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242 or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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