A 15-year-old Lehigh teenager could put the community on the national map because of his expertise in karate. He has an opportunity to travel to Medellin, Colombia, in South America from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1 and complete for the top spot in a competition with two others from around the country to become Number 1 as Top Elite in the USA Karate Nationals Competition.
Elijah Hintz is a sophomore at Lehigh Senior High School where he is dual-enrolled with classes through Edison State College.
He lives with his mom, his younger brother, Michael, and his younger sister, Rosie, all of whom are rooting for him to be able to go to South America and win big.
Judy Hintz stands next to her son, Elijah, who needs money to help pay for a trip to Colombia where he will compete in an international karate competition.
His mom is a single parent and a substitute teacher for the Lee County School District. His parents are able to come up with $1,000 toward the trip total of $6,500 and his grandparents have given him $2,500.
"We're so appreciate of the help. We are closer to the goal and we are asking for donation to cover the balance of $3,000 from those who would like to help Elijah go to the Pan American Games," said Judy Hintz, Elijah's proud mother.
"Elijah just returned last week from the USA Karate Nationals in Greenville, S.C. Athletes from USA Martial Arts Florida's competition team participated in "kobudo," "kata" and "kumite." Three competitors were trying out for a spot on the U.S. Junior National team in the Elite Division. The Elite competitors were Samantha Reach, Evelyn Largo and my son, Elijah," Hintz said.
Elijah began martial arts when he was four years old and earned his Sho Dan black belt in July of 2012 and is currently the Deshi at USA Martial Arts Florida where he is responsible for many things. He must be always available to help his sensi or instructor. This includes assisting other students in classes, running errands, tidying up when necessary, cleaning the "dojo" after classes each night and helping with special projects, his mother said.
The teenager is a musician, too, and an aspiring pianist. He is being taught piano by Candace Sundby at Cayuga Music Studio in Lehigh.
Last year he was a member of the high school's gospel choir directed by Julius Davis.
Elijah said that in his little bit of spare time, he likes composing and writing songs.
In recent months, he has devoted most of his time though to his martial arts and sport karate training.
He was living in Maryland when he became interested in the martial arts when he was four years old. Then after a move to Lehigh, he began his true journey at the USA Martial Arts Florida, Meishinkan Dojo, under the chief instructor and owner, Jeff Reach.
He earned his Sho Dan (first degree black belt) on July 1 of last year. Over the summer, he decided to become the Meishinkan's Soto Deshi (roughly translated to mean the apprentice of the head instructor), and further committed himself to his training and to his dojo.
He and his mother are asking for donations to help pay for the remaining cost of the trip.
They are contacting local clubs and organizations in Lehigh which have traditionally helped students in such projects of national recognition. And there are always residents, interested in the fortunes of Lehigh's young people, who help.
If you want to help, you can contact Judy Hintz by calling her at home. The number is 239-303-2562. Her cell number is 239-322-8064. She and her children live on Connecticut Road in Lehigh.
It is the responsibility of each athlete to finance his or her own travel arrangements to the Pan American Games in Medellin, Colombia.
Because Elijah's mother is a single parent with two other children and a substitute teacher for Lee County, she is unable to afford all the costs and that is why she is asking for donations to help finance Elijah's trip. You can also send donations to USA Martial Arts Florida, Attn: Judith Hintz, 1111 Homestead Rd. North, Unit 25, Lehigh Acres, FL. 33936.
"It would really be appreciated to help Elijah to attend the competition and come back to Lehigh with the title," she said.
Elijah says he is ready for the competition and feels confident he can do well. He will do his best, he said.