Celebrating by giving

| 20 Sep 2012 | 01:20

— James Foody turned 20 on Tuesday and decided to commemorate the end of his teenage years a little differently. This Saturday, Foody, an avid mixed martial arts student and teacher, will raise money for Kick Start, a foundation formed in 1992 by Chuck Norris to introduce kids to martial arts and help keep them out of trouble.
"I wanted to do something different for my birthday," said Foody, a sophomore at William Paterson University majoring in exercise science.
And he is. James will be kicking a heavy bag at the American Eagle Mixed Martial Arts School in Ho-Ho-Kus, where he teaches, raising money for the Kick Start program. He asked family, friends, students and anyone he met along the way to pledge $1 for each set of two kicks - one on each leg. As of press time, he had pledges from 80 people totaling $760, which means he will be kicking that heavy bag 1,520 times come Saturday afternoon.
And he will be sponsoring one kid for a full year in the Kick Start program, with money to spare.
"It's $586 to sponsor a child for a year," said James. "I wanted to do this for the benefit of another person."
James heard about the Kick Start program a while ago and was impressed that it used martial arts to help kids focus and stay out of trouble. He has been a student of martial arts since he was just six years old and it has certainly impacted his life in a positive way. Not only does this dean's list student continue to practice the martial arts - holding black belts in American Eagle Mixed Martial Arts and Goju-Ryu Karate - he also teaches it locally, hoping to make a difference in kids lives. His class for kids at the Hillcrest Community Center runs each Thursday from 5 to 5:45 p.m.
"Kids absolutely love this," said James. "I have great students at Hillcrest. They understand what I'm bringing to the table. They actually enjoy practicing at home. I make sure I have a very personal relations with my students."
In addition to his black belts, he has a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and will be testing for his brown belt in Burmese Bando next month. He's a national champion in martial arts in sparring and kata. He knows his stuff.
James wrote a letter to the Kick Start program, explaining what he plans to do. He also wrote a letter to the student he will sponsor, explaining to them what martial arts mean to him personally.
"I said I hope you get what I get out of martial arts," said James.
James said he is inspired by his parents, Jim and Nancy, as well as his little sister, Rebecca, 11, who also does martial arts.
"She's just amazing," said this proud older brother.
Anyone wishing to get in on the kicks can still do so. James started a Facebook event called Martial Arts. Or just search for his Facebook page, James Food, Hewitt.
The kicking begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the American Eagle Mixed Martial Arts School in Ho-Ho-Kus.