March 14, 2014, is a date that is likely to be remembered fondly by three students of Franklin Community High School, their teacher and one local martial arts instructor. This morning Rose Myers, Owner and Chief Instructor of Pilsung ATA Martial Arts, participated in a special meeting with Mrs. Groce, three of her students and their parents in Mrs. Groce's classroom. When questioned on the reason for the meeting she gladly explained her mission.
I went to meet with Eric Ekis and the other boys we are sponsoring from Mrs. Groce's Alternative Education Class. We had some paperwork to do to get the boys started. Mrs. Groce had set up a time that I could meet with the parents as well and tell them more about what she and I were planning.
And what they were planning is nothing short of incredible. Pilsung ATA Martial Arts, with help from Team PRIDE, is offering all three boys free memberships in the American Taekwondo Association and a year of free classes. This offer represents a major investment by her school, Rose's answer to the question of why she would do something like this was deceptively simple,
She originally learned about Eric Ekis through a story on him in the Indianapolis Star. The Sunday, March 4, paper held an article by Vic Ryckaert that detailed the struggles of a young man who was dealing with the loss of his father to a brain aneurysm and the depression that followed. This young man, Eric Ekis, had gained a great deal of weight as he ate to help himself feel better. At just 14 years old he had already reached 510 pounds. Being bullied for being so large and for not having a father, Eric was spiraling downward. Mrs. Myers read his story and felt compelled to offer assistance to Mrs. Groce and Eric's mother.
There was a very personal reason for this calling to help Rose continued to explain.
My father died of cancer when I was just a bit younger than Eric. I know what he is going through. I was bullied by my classmates because of my father's death and how it changed me. I want to help Eric heal, help him overcome the challenges he faces.
There will be more to this story as time goes on. Eric and his friends, each of which are dealing with loss and serious life challenges of their own, are just taking the first steps on a new adventure that could change their lives for the better.