SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Last Thanksgiving, Alexis Tearney-Kohl was kicking her way through adversity. She had recently taken over Tearney’s Martial Arts, a 51-year-old business her parents and Grand Masters Greg and Judy Tearney started. But she was also doing this during a global pandemic and while coping with her father’s cancer diagnosis.
“I knew what I wanted to do, but it just felt like this huge daunting task and it’s just me, it’s on my shoulders,” Tearney-Kohl said.
So she took to Zoom and started teaching her classes online, even offering a free class on Thanksgiving morning.
“Last year when it was just me on Zoom I did it as a free goodwill gesture open to the public and when I finished I had all these people on my computer and I said you know we can really do something bigger with this,” Tearney-Kohl said.
Fast forward a year later and Tearney-Kohl took her idea and turned it into action, using her Thanksgiving kickboxing class to give back to her community.
“Yeah we’re here, we’re kicking, we’re punching, we’re learning how to defend ourselves, we’re getting a great workout, but there’s a greater aspect to it,” she said.
With the help of participants both in-person and via Zoom this year, they raised money for In My Father’s Kitchen, a non-profit organization helping to feed the homeless.
“When I went on his website and I listened to his story…it spoke to me on a spiritual level and I was like yes that is so awesome. They make everything from scratch and they’re out in the community, out on the streets giving people home-cooked meals,” Tearney-Kohl said.
The mission of the organization is what motivated martial arts student Jessica Murray to attend the class with her kids.
“When she said she was doing it for that cause I knew I was going to be right here,” Murray said.
Murray has been helping to support Tearney-Kohl for the past nine months and her daughter, Natalia has been going to Tearney’s Martial Arts School for the past two and a half years.
“I started on Zoom and she started live so and then we’ve just kept on coming ever since and it gives her a lot more focus and for me, it relieves a lot of my frustration from my daily life at work,” Murray said.
And Tearney-Kohl is making her parents proud by carrying on the family’s legacy and paying it forward to her community.
If you’re interested in donating to the Kicking Out Hunger fundraiser you can do so here.