Most people know of the Osmond family from Donny and Marie or the "Osmond Brothers Band," but the famed entertainers are also closely involved with a cause that struck close to home throughout their lives.
Last week, Merrill Osmond of the "Osmond Brothers Band" and his son Justin stopped by the Family Karate Super Center's Kick-a-Thon in support of the school's annual event to raise money for the hearing impaired. Family Karate for the past two years has donated money to the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, which raises hearing health awareness and provides for the needs of those living with hearing loss.
"We're just honored and touched by Family Karate's generosity," said Justin Osmond, who was born with a 90 percent hearing loss. "This is the second year they've raised money to help deaf children in the area. Two years in a row they've been one of our top contributors."
Two of the nine famed Osmond children were born with hearing loss, while Justin is the only second generation Osmond born with the deaf gene. Olive established the Osmond Foundation to serve the needs of those seeking a better understanding of the deaf and hearing impaired. Her program then grew into the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), which has generated over $4 billion dollars for children's hospitals around the world, according to the group's web site.
Justin soon followed in his grandmother's footsteps, establishing the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund (OOHF) in her honor. His dream for the OOHF is to fulfill Olive's dream in providing up-to-date technology, education, and resources for the deaf.
"There are so many kids who can't pay for hearing aids and most insurance companies don't cover it," Justin said. "Most hearing aids cost $5,000 to $6,000. People need to hear just to function, but they can't afford it. That's the main reason we partner with organizations like Family Karate to help bridge the gap. Events like this help us realize our dream and are a huge help."
Last year Family Karate's first "Kick-a-Thon" raised money for the OOHF, while this year the money will go to the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf in Trenton. Center owner Donnalynn Patakos said she was inspired by a student who approached her with the idea for the "Kick-a-Thon."
"I didn't know the experience would change my life," she said. "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."
Hundreds of people attended last week’s charity event, which included carnival games, silent auctions, tricky trays. The "Kick-a-Thon" itself 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.
"We started really planning this the past several weeks, but we've been working on it throughout the summer," said team member Peter Ng, 15, of South Brunswick. "It's a great thrill to help out a good cause, but we also wanted kids to have fun, which is why we went with a carnival theme. Karate is not just about kicking and punching, it's also about giving back. We all feel great to be able to accomplish something like this, especially with the money going to help the Katzenbach school."
Family Karate was also aided by members of the public, who helped solicit donations for the drive based on their belief in the importance of the cause.
"We have to not take life for granted," said Pinky Mehta, of Princeton, who was one of the largest contributors. "We're born what we are and not everybody is the same. I tell my kids that not everybody is like you, so you need to understand why we're doing this, to help people who can't hear."
As he witnessed a steady stream of people come in and out of the "Kick-a-Thon" to support their efforts, Justin noted the generosity he saw from the South Brunswick community.
"We're just blown away by this and we're honored to be part of their family," he said. "Together we can help give more children the gift of hearing."
To learn more about helping the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, click here.
Be the first to know. Follow Patch on Facebook for up to the minute South Brunswick news.