J.K. Lee Black Belt Academy raised over $60,000 for cancer in their annual “Board Break-A-Thon” in Milwaukee last week. Sixteen years ago one of J.K. Lee’s students was diagnosed with cancer and the instructors wanted to find a way they could help.
“For the last 16 years we have been doing the “Board Break-A-Thon to raise money for cancer. So far we have raised a total of $400,000 for the Children’s Hospital and MACC Fund,” said Chan Lee, instructor and son of Grand Master Lee.
J.K Lee Black Belt Academy has been holding the Board Break-A-Thon in honor of Hollyn Peterson, a high brown belt who trains at their Waukesha, Wi., location for the last four years.
“When I was younger I use to watch my brothers and sisters break boards for cancer at the Board Break-A-Thon, but when I turned 5, I was diagnosed with cancer,” said Hollyn Peterson, 9.
“Last year’s Board Break-A-Thon I was getting ready for a transplant surgery. I was in the hospital for 50 days straight.”
Hollyn’s mother, Jennifer Peterson, said her daughter is a three-time cancer survivor. “Personally, as a family we have raised over $1,500 for the event today.”
J.K. Lee Black Belt Academy Events Coordinator, April Frank, 30, said, “We do a lot of community work, but this event is by far one of the biggest. Grand Master Lee believes that students should give back to the community, so it is a requirement for black belt students to participate in community events. We encourage kids to grow not just as martial artists, but as people.”
Grand Master Lee opened his first school 34 years ago after immigrating to the United States from Korea. Since then he has opened four other schools.
“It is a family business—my father, brothers, and I are all involved,” said Christine Lee, Grand Master Lee’s daughter. “My father started the business 34 years ago in Milwaukee and we now have five different locations. I started the Waukesha school in 1999. I have trained for over 26 years.”
Asked if the boards are real, Christine Lee said, “Yes, they are real pine boards, but how thick the boards are depends on the student’s experience. I can break five boards at a time.”
J.K. Lee Black Belt Academy students form a community that works to improve physical strength, stamina, and concentration. They pride themselves helping young and old alike to increase self-confidence by encouraging support from each other.
“The practice of martial arts means respecting each other, encouraging and supporting each other, and celebrating each other’s successes,” said Chan Lee.