Do The Right Thing


Joey Phillips is one of my junior black belts. Joey came to me years ago as a
young man of seven or eight. I liked to watch Joey work. He was focused, and he was a
powerhouse. That kid would crack off push-ups like nothing, and still does. Joey kind of
reminds me of Popeye with his big, ol forearms.
Joey s parents, Rich and Maureen, are pretty cool people. Joey is their only child.
He gets great grades. He does well in karate. He is well-mannered. And he knows what is
right and wrong. That s why he received the “Do The Right Thing” award here in Lee
County. I had another child in my studio who earned the recognition as well for saving
another child from drowning. But this is what Joey did.
The Children s Hospital is not far from us. Joey heard that the kids there were in
need of comfort in a difficult time. That s totally understandable, but maybe over the
heads of many nine-year-olds. Joey took his allowance money, money that he had saved
over time and bought stuffed animals for the kids at the hospital. I think they were teddy
bears. I don t know how he got them there but I m sure his parents helped. However, they
told me it was his idea and his money. Somebody took notice and “turned him in”. The
award followed, and I was at the ceremony. He had his picture taken with the Chief of
Police, and was given a certificate or a plaque and some other stuff. Pretty cool stuff for a
young guy, and it made us proud.
The great thing was that it was not the possibility that he d get his name in the
paper, or that he d be given some rewards that motivated Joey. I asked him in front of his
kenpo class why he did it. His answer was unintentionally funny, but from the heart. He
said “I had so much money I didn t know what else to do with it.”
Joey also had the courage to step in and break up a school ground fight. I was
informed that two kids were hooked up and the bigger one was a friend of Joey s. Now
that s a decision. You can t allow it to continue but you don t want to hurt someone.
What to do? I believe Joey was a brown belt about then. What he elected to do was
buckle the big kid, take him down, sit on him, and admonish him with “That s enough of
that.” Kids like this make me think they actually do listen to what I tell them in class.
Back to the stuffed animals. I was approached by an organization that was selling
teddy bears, with the proceeds going to help fund air transport operations for people who
could not afford to buy plane tickets to get to where the medical help was. I told them I d
sell them in my studio since it was near Christmas and we have lots of families. Do you
know that after a couple of phone calls these people could not get it together to get me
those bears?
We need more people like Joey.