Martial arts students work together to support ill child

Yennie Martial Arts presents a gift to Sammy Chesney after their Kickin' for Cancer event. SUBMITTED PHOTO
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“It was all for Sammy Chesney this year – we had around 75 students kicking,” related Shawn Yennie, of Yennie Martial Arts (YMA) in Chatfield, Spring Valley and Grand Meadow,

His martial arts students raised funds for 8-year-old Chesney through the schools’ annual Kickin’ for Cancer kickathon fundraiser held Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Chatfield YMA studio.

Yennie’s students gathered pledges and donations for Chesney, and for each dollar they raised, they had to practice one martial arts kick. This proved to be a rather tiring, but muscle-building endeavor, given they collectively brought in over $6,500. These funds were proudly presented to their new friend and his family.

Yennie explained, “We chose Sammy and his family in September by nomination and greatest need. Even though we are called ‘Kickin’ for Cancer,’ we know that cancer is not the only thing that can attack us. There are so many illnesses and diseases that can be just as scary and deadly.”

Sammy’s mom, Kelsey Chesney, sent Yennie a note upon the family’s nomination. She wrote, “Thank you so much, and we are very humbled to be considered and nominated. We would be grateful for any help, so thank you!”

She described Sammy as an active and sporty boy. “When he was 7, in July 2017, he came down with viral hepatitis that attacked his liver. Because his body fought so hard to fight the virus, his body actually attacked his own immune system and destroyed his bone marrow, which makes all of your blood cells. Since October 2017, he has required over 90 blood and platelet transfusions. He received a bone marrow transplant on April 3, 2018, and it failed in May. He received another bone marrow transplant on June 20 and is now doing very well, but is unable to go back to school until January.”

Yennie pointed out, “Sammy is a very special boy. There were many people who know Sammy because of his many visits to the clinic. He has such a great spirit. It was nice to have him out to the studio – we were able to present their family with a check for $6,500, along with a few gifts for Sammy. This is the highest amount raised so far – and his mom said this was the biggest group he’s been around in a really long time. He came to the studio along with his mom, his dad, Jeff, and his two siblings.”

Yennie’s students had one month to raise as much money as they could for the Chesneys, and there was some competition among the students.

“We have three schools – Chatfield, Spring Valley and Grand Meadow – and we now do an overall winner and second place from all the schools. Jackson Rowe of Spring Valley was our first-place winner, and Emily Bova of Chatfield was our second-place winner.”

After the kickathon, the students and their families were treated to a pizza party and movie night.

“We look forward to doing this event every year and setting an example for our students on how to give and think about others in need,” Yennie said. “I think that it is the perfect way to get focused on what’s really important before the holiday rush. There are many families that are in need, and it is a special feeling to be able to help another family out. I like that so many of our students participate and most give of their own money to donate. It makes me very proud of my students.”

He concluded, “We have amazing students. They work hard and are always willing to help out. We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful students.”