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"Sensei Barnie" gets a little help from his friends

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By Angye Morrison

A man who has given so much to so many now needs a little help himself.

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Barnie Ross, also known as “Sensei Barnie” by the kids he coaches at Havana’s Alpha UpKudo Karate, underwent knee replacement surgery and is doing well in rehabilitation, according to Anne Radke, owner of the karate facility.

But due to a change in his insurance coverage, Ross now has to pay $250 per day for rehab, in addition to paying what his insurance won’t cover. Radke said Ross is working hard to recover so his medical bills don’t pile up, but it’s just not enough.

“I think it is sad that the elderly and a war veteran has to work in his 70s just to pay medical bills for him and his wife, who has a heart condition and has battled breast cancer, a hip replacement and a broken shoulder. All these medical bills are why this three-time  retired man has to keep working,” she said.

To help with the expenses, UpKudo is hosting the Warrior Challenge Sparring tournament for children ages 6-12 years old. The winners will receive trophies and T-shirts, and spectators will be asked to pay a $5 admission fee.

A yard sale was held to take care of the expense of hosting the event.

Ross became involved in karate in March 2000, after seeing his daughter participate in an event. He studied under Radke, eventually earning his black belt. His goal was to earn the belt before his 70th birthday. He received it on his 69th.

After earning his belt, Ross decided it was time to give back to others, and began to teach at the center. He teaches children in the 3- to 5-year and 6- to 12-year age brackets.

He is an outspoken advocate of karate, and is quick to say age is not a factor. He especially encourages senior adults to sign up, adding that the physical benefits are obvious, but it is about more than just kicking, punching and self defense.

“Karate has become so much more for me than the selfish reasons for which I first started. It has taught me that no matter who you are or at what stage in your life you are, it is a force that will sustain you for many years to come,” he said.

Radke says Ross is a fixture at the center, often coming there directly after work. He has become a father figure to her, and a grandfather to many of the children he teaches. She says she has a lot of respect for Ross and the kind of man he is.

“He is old school in that he believes a real man continues to work and pay his family’s medical expenses that insurance has failed to do. Obviously he can’t pay them if he can’t work while he is getting well. I don’t know how much we can raise but every little bit helps,” she said. “We want to take care of our hero, Sensei Barnie. He has loved everyone, trained and taught for 10 years now, and it is time we give back to him.”

The tournament will be held Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. at Alpha UpKudo in Havana, located on U.S. Highway 27. Call 541-4334 for tickets or more information.

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