Houston (May 13, 2023) Kickstart Kids’ 30th Anniversary Boots & Black Belts Gala raised nearly $1 million thanks to more than 40 sponsors led by Title Sponsor, Stephen & Mary Birch Foundation. Gala guests witnessed flying front kicks, elaborate katas, and even aerial skills as highly trained and disciplined Kickstart Kids Demonstration Teams from middle schools across Texas came to kick up a storm and dazzle guests. While the teams battled it out on stage, there were audible “ooh’s and aah’s” rewarded from the crowd. Grand Master Chuck Norris’ eyes twinkled with pride and amazement at the extreme talent and precision of the students, but a deeper look beyond the enthralling demo team performance reveals the mission of Kickstart Kids: to teach character through karate.



This year the event was held at a new venue, the gorgeous Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, which provided an elegant backdrop for the evening. Kickstart Kids Founder and Event Chairs Chuck and Gena Norris paid tribute to an American hero Rex King and his beloved wife Marillyn, who made history in his Naval career before they moved into trucking. Four Kickstart Kids instructors were named as Instructors of the Year: Cristina Rodriguez, Sidney Banuelos, Yael Acosta, and Amanda Meisner. Chuck and Gena Norris gave their exceptional Character Award to Keith and Alice Mosing who epitomize the Kickstart Kids character values and have had a monumental positive impact on the communities they serve. The Founder’s Vision Award was given to Debora Durkin and Christopher Patek, who along with their parents Patrick J. and Rose B. Patek, have played a critical role in establishing and continuing to build Kickstart Kids. Former KPRC-TV News Anchor Linda Lorelle and 93Q morning crew Andy Riggs, Katelyn Maida and Erica Rico served as the masters of ceremony connecting the audience to the students whose lives have been changed thanks to their support.


Adding to the bottom line was the Paddles Up appeal where a $50,000 matching gift from American Telecast Products was announced. The live auction quickly warmed up with a signed Taylor Swift guitar and a one-of-a-kind weekend experience on the Norris’ ranch.


The evening concluded with an intimate performance by country music star Rodney Atkins, who had guests young and old dancing to his family-friendly country hits.


Kickstart Kids is a Texas Education Agency recognized, in-school character development program that offers high quality martial arts instruction to adolescents navigating the difficult middle and high school years. At a time when students are developing their identity and faced with significant life choices, the KSK curriculum promotes community, achievement, healthy lifestyles and the foundation of character – discipline, responsibility, kindness, respect, courage, dedication, honesty, and loyalty. This year, more than 8,300 students are enrolled in 60 schools across the state of Texas. Since its inception in 1992, more than 110,000 students have benefitted from this one-of-a-kind, life-changing program. For more information visit



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