TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Kaitlyn Chimento has gone through a lot of adversity during her 22 years of life. She has autism, a rare seizure disorder, partial blindness, and paralysis. Getting her into adaptive karate took a little bit of time.
"At first I think she was a little shy to it because she was a little more shy as a kid," Kaitlyn's sister, Toni, said.
But when she came into it, she loved it. Her dad, Nick, is a third degree black belt and has practiced karate for over a decade. He said that Kaitlyn was originally going to his mentor for training. When he saw the benefits it brought to his daughter, he knew it could help other people.
"I decided this would be a great thing to do. To expand on that idea. To work with these kids and their weaknesses and work with their strengths, but really capitalize on their weaknesses to change how they feel about themselves," Chimento said.
Now, Kaitlyn has built community at Kenpo Eagles Karate in the Town of Tonawanda. Her father can see how much it's helping her every single day.
"The use of her left side. She never used it before, but now forcing her to throw punches, throw kicks, throw blocks just over and over again. You can't even tell anymore," Chimento said.
But it's not just Kaitlyn. People of all abilities come and train with Nick. People who are blind, paralyzed, have ADHD, autism, and so much more. Chimento said if you can raise your arms, he's going to be able to teach you something.
"The only adjustment I made is that I completely underestimate this community," Chimento said.
One of the biggest aspects of karate is respect. This martial art is all based all around respect and control. Those are tools that Chimento wants his students to take with them. It will help them not only on the mat, but in life too.
"When they walk out of here, Kenpo doesn't end. You're respectful to your parents, teachers. I have parents who give me bad reports from school, and we take care of it on the mats. I don't teach bullies. If you want to be a bully, go somewhere else and fight," Chimento said.