This Nonprofit Walks the Talk
Patty Knowles and Wendi Holman—both of Central Oregon—used to watch as promising students of the Sortor Bushido Kai Karate studio switch to team sports because of the higher likelihood of getting college scholarships. Frustrated, the pair decided to do something to support future education and instruction for individual sport athletes. Enter the Good Thoughts Good Actions Foundation (GTGA), created to assure continued participation by students in individual sport disciplines.
“It’s heartbreaking to know a student can’t continue because of finances.” - GTGA Board Member Crystal Wright.
The GTGA funds college scholarships and ongoing training scholarships for students involved in individual sports. So far, they have awarded scholarships in the disciplines of karate, mountain biking, nordic skiing, and climbing. Funding goes to help kids afford gear and registration fees for things such as competitions and tournaments.
The GTGA—which began in 2011—honors Stuart Quon, who pioneered the Bushido Kai Karate method. Quon died in 2006, yet his interpretation of Bushido Kai—“the way of the warrior”—continues in the teachings of his student, Brian Sortor. The method incorporates a variety of martial arts disciplines and works under the principles of the ancient Samurai: justice, honor, courage, duty, compassion, courteous humility, and honesty. Quon believed that good thoughts lead to good actions and impressed this concept upon his students.
“It’s heartbreaking to know a student can’t continue because of finances, “ says GTGA Board Member Crystal Wright.
Wright, also a student/instructor at Sortor Karate, has seen first-hand how shy, awkward kids are transformed into confident people through martial arts training.
Board Member Sharon Groh has kids who participate in nontraditional sports. She’s noticed how the Bushido Kai approach has affected her kids and wants to help others.
“Individual sports help develop kids in a more rounded way,” says Groh.
The GTGA board meets monthly—and more often over email—when making decisions regarding scholarship applications. They have one major fundraiser each year, the Face Your Fears Open Martial Arts Tournament—held on May 13—and another, more laid back, beer and raffle event they’ve named Face Your Beers, appropriately held at Broken Top Bottle Shop this year on October 13.
Funds raised have helped college students like Andrea Newcomb, who received her black belt in 2013 and is a sensei at Sortor as well as a full-time student. Her scholarship helped her purchase books and supplies as well as gas money to get to and from school and work.
“(The training) is who I am, including the discipline, focus, and determination to get to black belt status,” says Newcomb. “I know now that I’ve done ‘hard’ before and I can do it again. Hard classes, presentations . . . I can do this.”
When it comes to following the Seven Principals, board members are fully on board. At the beginning of each year, they hold a planning meeting which includes putting together a series of “Bushido Events.” A Bushido Event might be an effort to provide Thanksgiving dinners to families of other karate studios, or sponsoring/teaching a few free lessons to students preparing for their next karate level test. They also teach self-defense classes to groups and businesses and volunteer as a group at fellow nonprofit events.
Jamie Johnson is a student of Sortor Karate, as are her two younger sons. Her single-parent family has received help from the GTGA Foundation in the form of lower cost lessons, tournament financial aid, gear and testing fees.
“They are constantly volunteering their time to better the students at our dojo and other dojos, too,” says Johnson about the board. “You can see their hard work paying off in students like my sons, whose confidence has greatly improved through training.”
Want to get involved?
The GTGA Foundation can always use sponsors for events, funding for scholarships, raffle prizes, and connections to gear for individual sports (martial arts, skiing, mountain biking, etc).