Students try to raise money to attend competition


Six students at a Glen Burnie tae kwon do school who placed third or better at a state competition in April are preparing for the national finals next month in Los Angeles. But they need money to get there.

Their parents have been selling chances on a $200 prize to family and friends, and they plan to sell more tickets from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Filipino Festival at the Baltimore County Courthouse plaza. They plan to draw for the winner that night.

They also have been trying to recruit corporate sponsors, but not having much luck.

"It's too big for small corporations and too small for the big corporations. We still need a sponsor," said Karen Congdon of Glen Burnie, whose son, Derek, 11, placed first in the state competition and holds a first degree black belt.

The students from Apolo's East Coast Tae Kwon Do on Crain Highway are among 15 who placed high enough in the Maryland Tae Kwon Do Association championships April 29 at Essex Community College to qualify for the national championships.

They competed according to age, weight and belt ranking.

But not all of them will be able to attend the U.S. Tae Kwon Do Union Junior Olympic Championship from July 5 to July 8 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, mostly because of money.

"All can't go because their parents can't take off work or can't afford it," said Apolo Ladra, 29, who runs the Glen Burnie school. Those who could afford the trip have bought their airline tickets and are hoping to be reimbursed, he said.

The students planning to make the trip are Derek; James Salazar, 10, of Severn, who placed second in senior brown belt competition; Annalisa Tamondong, 11, of Severna Park, who won first place in purple belt competition; Michael Barone, 8, of Severna Park, who took third in green belt; Michele Whitby, 12, of Pasadena, a first place finisher in blue belt; and Matthew Taby, 9, of Millersville, who placed third in red belt competition but since has received his first degree black belt.

Although this is the first time the students have advanced to the nationals, they say they are not nervous and expect to do well.

They say studying martial arts has given them discipline and self-confidence.

"At first, I didn't have any discipline, and I was always getting mad at my mom, and I didn't have any self-confidence," said Matthew. But studying martial arts for four years has "made me feel that anything I set my mind to I could do perfectly," he said.

Kurt Shryock, an instructor at Apolo's, said his students will practice at least twice a week for three hours before leaving for the West Coast.

"You can teach a kid how to win, but if it's not in their heart, it's not going to help," said Mr. Shryock, who often reminds his team that "if you do your best, what you have in your heart and in your head is more important than any trophy, because you can break those."

The parents are asking for contributions to the East Coast Tournament Team, P.O Box 2055, Glen Burnie 21060.

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