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Twin Rivers Taekwondo kicks off fundraiser for abused youth

October 9, 2018

Eleven-year-old Colby Smolek is on a mission to help abused youth by raising funds with his peers at Twin Rivers Taekwondo this month in recognition of October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Kids need to have as much help as they can to make them grow up and help them live a healthy, better life so that they can get a good job later on and live a good life with their families,” the Columbus Middle School student said. “I think that is a very good cause to do.”

Last week, officials at Twin Rivers Taekwondo initiated their biennial fundraiser to raise funds for the Center for Survivors, a nonprofit organization providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault within Boone, Butler, Colfax, Nance, Platte and Polk counties. Students were asked to seek donations from parents, relatives and friends throughout October in hopes of reaching the overall goal of $2,500.

Proceeds are being collected from Twin Rivers Taekwondo groups in Columbus, Schuyler, Leigh and Wayne.

“…To support them in any way possible, but also our part in it is to bring awareness to it, as well, because we all can’t do what they’re doing so we can at least do something with this,” said Marc Beller, chief instructor at Twin Rivers Taekwondo. “Just (giving) more attention to who is servicing people who are less fortunate than we are and (students) probably don’t know that, but they definitely know statistics show that this world is not by any means perfect and not everyone is happy and not everybody has a safe home.”

Forty percent of the total proceeds raised are being donated to the nonprofit organization to support programming for abused children and families in need, and the remainder will be split equally among local law enforcement agencies. These include the Columbus Police Department, Platte County Sheriff’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol.

This is the first year the group decided to venture out to help local law enforcement.

“We also want to make the law enforcement kind of feel more appreciated and are trying to support their everyday service,” Beller said.

According to national statistics on child abuse provided by the National Children’s Alliance, approximately 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the U.S. in 2015 and nearly 700,000 youth are abused annually.

“There is a reality that (students) don’t understand and so if we can say ‘hey, let’s do something,’ and maybe they will continue that forward when they get older or be involved in trying to making more of a difference than we can do,” Beller said.

Smolek said his eyes were opened to the growing issues of abused children and families in need from taekwondo instructors and during school assemblies. He participated in the fundraiser years ago and is excited to contribute again this year.

To celebrate the effort, members of Twin Rivers Taekwondo will be hosting the 2018 Board “Break” for Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9 inside the 1C Sanctuary gymnasium, 2200 28th Ave.

Each student will be breaking five boards according to their skill level and age as a token of appreciation to those who donated, as well as to showcase their support to the Center for Survivors and local law enforcement.

“I always usually break as many boards as I can,” Smolek said. “I always try to break the biggest board.”

Members of Columbus Police Department, Platte County Sheriff’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol will also be presented with a Saint Michael’s medal.

Beller said the medals are worn for protection, especially during dangerous times.

“I think it’s what we are supposed to do as martial artists,” he said. “We are supposed to give back and not always take.”

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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