Acts of Kid Kindness Series

Act II: Garage Sale Selflessness

  1. The Case of Senpai Spencer

For our second act of kid kindness, we take a skip off the soccer pitch and mosey on over to the karate dojo;  Tiger Kang Karate to be more specific.

After Jamey passed away, Tiger Kang’s owner,Sensei Min Hee, encouraged members of the school to share in her Korean traditions of collecting money for family members of deceased individuals as an honorarium for the deceased.

It was touching and overwhelming.

We received monies in varying degrees of generosity but almost all of them had a common theme—-either a zero or a five at the end of the  denomination–$10, $25, $50.

That was, however, until I came across a check that had an unusual denomination: something like $143.00.

(I’m not sure that’s the actual amount, but you get the point).

I did think it was a little odd when I first saw it, but didn’t think much about it after that.

One day, as I was hanging out in the dojo, I ran into a mom I hadn’t seen in a while.  Her son, Spencer, is a young boy from karate who I’d always really liked and was drawn to because he reminded me so much of Jamey.

He’s a plucky kid–very small for his age, but scrappy, tough and an incredibly hard worker and competitor; pretty much just a younger version of who Jamey was as an athlete.

Spencer’s a bit older than Caeley, but the two of them are about the same size and have similar amounts of “fight” in them—and fight they do!

(There’s been a long-standing rumor that the two of them have mutual crushes on each other, but if you ever saw them spar in the ring, or grapple on the mat, you’d be hard-pressed to believe it).

As I was catching up with his mom, she mentioned to me that she wanted to explain why the donation they’d offered us had been such an “odd” amount(theirs was the $143.00 donation).

She said that the weekend prior to the donation, her family had had a yard sale. The young man who is often Caeley’s nemesis in the grappling ring had sold off a lot of the toys, video games and clothes that he no longer needed or wanted.

Instead of keeping his money and re-investing in more toys or clothes or video games, as many kids would immediately think to do, Spencer decided to do something different.

He decided to give his money to Caeley as part of the honorarium for Jamey.

He felt it was the right thing to do.

He also didn’t feel a need to have this good deed on his part  brought to our attention.

He did it freely and with no want for recognition.

(Although I  believe he’d be perfectly fine with me publishing this piece about him and not mentioning him by name, I wanted to get both his and his mom’s permission to mention him personally so he received the recognition I’d like him to have).

Oh—and just a side note–

This past weekend, Spencer joined Caeley and me in the rank of first degree black belt at Tiger Kang Karate.

Caeley and I watched him battle valiantly and bravely against kids quite literally twice his size. He got knocked down a bunch. He got back up, no matter how tired or beaten or hurt he felt.

He got back up every single time.

The last part of his physical endurance test involved sparring. I’d watched him take punch after punch and kick after kick from kids that could honestly give me a run for my money.

His final opponent of the day–the last person he faced off against before finally earning his black belt– was Caeley.

I thought that was so unbelievably fitting that the final match of the day was the two of them

Caeley  went at him hard….and even though he was teetering on the verge of exhaustion, the kid just kept fighting.

He fought hard—just like Jamey did for so many years.



True martial arts speak to not only a person’s strength and skill, but his or her sense of morals and character.

I’m proud to say that Spencer has earned not only his black belt, but my respect and gratitude.

As we say in karate, Os!

Next in the “Acts of Kid Kindness” Series: Karate kids, soccer kids and funerals…oh my!







3 thoughts on “Acts of Kid Kindness Series

  1. Whoa! That boy priorities straight. So does your Sensei and everyone who followed her suggestion. Good idea!
    And what a gift it is to see your husband’s qualities shine through that kid. A tough fighter. And a generous and compassionate soul.

    You guys had and still have a mighty good circle of support.
    It’s ( ugh) humbling to get handed a wad of cash, it has been and still is for us, or firewood, or a box of groceries, or fuel. It all helps though because long term illness gets beyond expensive.

    What a cutie-pie that little one is! Look at her stretch!


  2. You know what, Judy…for the longest time when Jamey was ill, I felt isolated and alone. Now, our personalities and lifestyles were partly to blame for that–we were both introverted homebodies when he was “healthy”…no reason that would change when he was ill.
    But you’re right—we really did and continue to have a “mighty circle of support” as you put it.
    And I feel you on the “wad of cash, box of groceries..” bit as well. It is touch to accept help, especially when it comes in a financial or commodity form. I finally just looked at it this way: people are trying to help make my insane and unpredictable day at little less so. Knowing I have a $10 Wawa gift card might encourage me to stop off and get myself a coffee before heading into Philly for treatments. Knowing I have an extra box of Goldfish crackers in my pantry prevents me from having to rush out to the store on a Sunday night to buy the kid snacks for school.
    As I’m sure you know, those seemingly meaningless little breaks in the monotony of chaos were sometimes the few things that kept me (relatively) sane.


  3. Oh!!! And the stretching cutie pie in the pic is Caeley when she was just 3 years old. The woman holding in a smile next to her is Sensei MinHee–the owner Tiger Kang–the dojo I mentioned in the post.
    Caeley’s been training with her for 9 years now—we spend more time at the dojo than at home sometimes!


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