When 69-year-old Lowell Cherry came into our office for help after being injured in a serious car accident, he was wearing his Vietnam veteran ball cap like a badge of honor.
Like most men who served the US Army in Vietnam during the 1970's, the war changed Lowell. But for the former 101st Airborne pointman, the changes had not only a lasting impact on himself, but also on countless others.
"Every morning I would watch the Vietnamese people do Tai Chi," Lowell explained, "The Air Force also had a martial arts program and everyday as I helped secure the Air Force base, I would watch them."
The calm, graceful forms of exercise stuck with Lowell and he soon fell in love wtih martial arts like Tai Chi and Jujitsu.
But what had an even greater impact on the then 22-year-old man were the native children.
"The kids in Vietnam were mistreated, even by American GI's," Lowell said, "I promised myself that when I got back from Vietnam, I would show our own children here in America good treatment and teach them discipline and how to be a good leader instead of a follower, and to work hard in everything that you do."
So when the young man came home to Connecticut from the South Pacific in 1971, he began learning martial arts and teaching the concepts to children in his community. He is a member of the Jukido Jujitsu Kokondo Martial Arts International club and when he moved to Toledo in 2001, he continued teaching to kids in the Glass City.
He is now a 4th degree black belt working on becoming a 5th degree master and has taught literally thousands of children the art of Jujitsu. But perhaps the most inspiring part is that he jas always offered his lessons for free.
"It is what I enjoy." Lowell said. "In the 44 years I have been teaching, I have never charged a kid a dime. My payment is seeing what others acheive."
Lowell likes to use martial arts as a focusing tool for students with behavioral problems that stem from ADD, ADHD, and Autism.
"When they are in my class, they will listen to everything you say," Lowell said. "But once they leave the buidling, that's the part I have no control over. But many parents say they now sit still in class, have more confidence and have more discipline."
All classes are free and open to kids and young adults of all ages and all experience levels - even those who have never encountered martial arts before. Those who are interested in the class may call the respective churches where the classes are held for session times and to sign-up. Glenwood Lutheran Church, located at 2545 Monroe Street, Toledo, Ohio 43620, can be reached at 419-255-0886 or parents can also call Redeemer Lutheran Church at 419-536-3781, which is located at 1702 Upton Avenue, Toledo, Ohio 43607.
To learn more about Mr. Cherry, visit www.TributeToToledoans.com to watch a video about his life and his lessons.