Pawling Karate recently completed their fourth annual “Burpees for Parkinson’s Disease” challenge. The local martial arts school raises awareness and funds for Parkinson’s Disease research through a physical challenge to see how many “burpees,” or squat thrusts with a jump, the martial arts athletes can complete during the month of April.
This challenge started back in 2015 and was inspired by Alison Sheltrown, a martial artist and friend of Sensei Alexis Sterry, owner of Pawling Karate. Alison was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in her early 40s and combats her disease through movement and exercise. In 2015, she issued a “throw down challenge” to all the martial artists that she knew. Her goal was to see how many burpees her network of friends and their students could do over the course of the month. Sensei Alexis further motivated her students to join in by committing to donate one penny for each burpee they did both in and out of class. Pawling Karate contributed 16,432 to the global total of more than 500,000.
Each year Sensei Alexis continues this effort, and each year Pawling Karate’s amazing students rise to the occasion. In 2017, the total was 35,330. This year everyone really stepped up to try and beat last year’s record high. Most students performed an average of 600 burpees for the month, but some standout students doing over 1,000 or even 2,000 individually. The total for 2018 was an incredible 43,022.
Sensei Alexis’s penny-per-burpee donation combined with other generous donations meant that $816.22 was donated to the Van Andel Institute for Parkinson’s Research. Sensei Alexis was astounded by the total this year, stating, “I am constantly amazed by the dedication and ability of my students; they surpass every goal I lay out for them. I am so proud!”