SEWELL, N.J. - A New Jersey martial arts instructor who was forced to close his studio and pivot to online instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic wanted to give his dedicated students an extra and help the community at the same time with a birthday fundraiser.
Students and their families formed a caravan of cars in the parking lot of Underground Martial Arts and Fitness Studio in Sewell on Saturday morning to wish owner and head coach Mark Moore a happy 40th birthday.
"This is going to be the birthday to remember, I'm so happy," Moore said.
Students brought homemade signs and shouted well wishes out the window to ensure appropriate social distancing. In lieu of gifts, families dropped off shoe donations for Soles4Souls.
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Moore set a goal to collect 4,000 shoes for the non-profit organization, and his students did not disappoint.
"We picked up 20 [pairs of shoes] on the way here," Nicole Borger said. "People just keep calling, they want to do something good, it's contagious."
For Moore's students, the birthday parade and fundraiser presented an opportunity to visit a mentor. Since the coronavirus, Moore's students have only been receiving instruction through zoom chats.
In those remote lessons, Moore pushed three messages: Keep a positive attitude, become the best version of yourself and giving to those less fortunate.
"This is a time that we can capitalize on and be the best version of ourselves," Moore said. "Kinda become the hero of your journey."
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