Story and photos by Danny Maerten
On the sunny Saturday last month, Project Future held its annual Kick-A-Thon Against Drugs and Violence at Niagara Catholic High School.
This annual awareness and fundraising event has been held for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1989. The "500 Kick Challenge" consisted of martial arts demonstrations and recognition of individuals who are part of the Project Future program.
This annual event is under the direction of the Rev. Robert (Bob) Heisner, who holds an eighth degree black belt in martial arts, and the black belt instructors of Project Future. Heisner is the founder, director and instructor of the Project Future Center on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield, which teaches the Bushido Kai style of martial arts. Bushido Kai literally means school of the warrior, codes and honor of the warrior teacher.
Fifty-six students and instructors participated in the Kick-A-Thon, raising money with each well executed, implemented and accomplished kick or movement. The money raised assists in funding the center as well as other community outreach programs.
Each participant received a 2012 Kick-A-Thon T-shirt and recognition award.
Chloe Tonellato received the "Top Kick" award.
Outstanding Student awards were presented to Jae Falbo, Zachary Colson, Samuel Fesmire, Bradley Nupher, Nathaniel Manns, Luke Donner, Mason Gioeli and Jarred Dallmann.
Receiving trophies for Instructor Appreciation were Gilles Dube, Chris Poette, Vicky Neal, Rob Berbach, Alex Casilio and Dr. Martin Drake.
A team competition, two teams, five members each, was executed to display the students' martial arts abilities, skills and aptitudes to the spectators that filled the gymnasium. The teams, under captains Chloe Tonellato and Jae Falbo, demonstrated free-sparing, board breaking, kata forms and weapon forms.
The Kiwanis Club of Niagara-Wheatfield, for the fifth consecutive year, partially sponsored the event with the purchase of the trophies and medallions. This year's trophies were named in recognition of the club's continued support. It was a day of positive and constructive energy highlighting the well deserving kids.