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Carnival and Kicks at Family Karate Thursday

Public invited to family festival featuring the Osmond Family and Linda the Librarian from "Sesame Street" to raise money for the hearing impaired.

Monmouth Junction's Family Karate Super Center will open its doors to the public with a special event for a great cause on Thursday with the second annual “Kick-a-Thon.”

Last year the center's first "Kick-a-Thon" raised money for the Olive Osmond Perpetual Hearing Fund, which supports new research and innovation to improve the quality of life for the hearing impaired. The charity also provides hearing aids for children who can't afford them. This year the money will go to the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf in Trenton.

"As a small business owner people come through with community events and we try to help in whatever way we can," said center owner Donnalynn Patakos. "Last year a woman in our karate school approached me with the idea for the ‘Kick-a-Thon’ and I wasn't sure about it, but she's always been a great supporter of the school so I couldn't say no. I didn't know the experience would change my life. It's catapulted a feeling of philanthropy that resonates with our teen students and has now gone into our whole student body. It's about really teaching martial arts, where the basis is to give back."

The carnival will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday, featuring face painting, balloon animals, carnival games, silent auctions and tricky tray raffles for great prizes, including a free night at the Hampton Inn and a $1,000 gift certificate for a New York City hair salon, in addition to prizes from local businesses.

"What I love is that there are so many local vendors helping us out, so it's going to be awesome," Patakos said.

Guests attending the event include Merrill Osmond, Justin Osmond and his brother Shane. Merrill is the lead singer of the Osmond Brothers Band. Also on hand will be Linda the Librarian from the legendary children's show "Sesame Street."

The fundraiser works much like a walk-a-thon, where students get friends and family to pledge $1 for every kick they perform. The event was put together by the karate school's teen leadership program.

"This teaches them how to work with others, how to network and how to get stuff done," Patakos said. "I got to a point where I realized when I'm doing this year after year, what am I leaving behind? I wanted to do something that makes a difference and gets our teens to think about others."

Also attending the event will be hearing impaired teenager Ryan Smith, who was the recipient of hearing aids from the last Kick-a-Thon.

"It's really important for the kids to meet him," Patakos said. "I met him and was almost crying hysterically. It's one thing to do a good deed, but it's another thing for the kids to see it in action."

In addition to the carnival, there will also be a wide range of karate demonstrations starting at 6:30 p.m. with students from the age of 4-years-old to 54-years-old performing.

"It's important for the community to come out and support this because it's a great cause for kids who can't afford hearing aids," Patakos said. "Our leadership team is trying out a new thing with the carnival, so we invite everyone to come out and have an amazing time for a great cause."

Family Karate Super Center is located at 621 Ridge Road in Monmouth Junction. The carnival begins at 4 p.m. and the event will run until about 9 p.m. Thursday.

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