September 2022 I realized my dream by starting my own martial arts school. Armed with a masters degree in teaching from Pitt and decades of martial arts experience, I dropped all my savings and ran up my credit card to open the doors.
More important than the money to me was the opportunity to teach my daughter (pictured above) self-defense and spend more quality time with her instead of going to work.
Everything was going well and I started to become profitable, until February 3, 2023 (only a few months later) a train carrying hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals crashed just under a mile away from my home and business. We were forced to evacuate and our small town went from Mayberry to a circus of reporters, lawyers, politicians, epa agents, private police forces and construction vehicles. I had to close my doors as parents didn’t want to bring their kids to a toxic chemical spill three times a week.
My personal residence is contaminated with untold chemical compounds and other school’s sports teams would rather forfeit games than come to our town. I lost my home and income overnight.
Initially, the “responsible party” promised to pay me a business loss claim. They told me that if my request was reasonable and if I provided receipts that they would just pay to avoid going to court. As of this writing they are ignoring my emails and messages. The tragedy fell out of the attention span of the national media, so small business owners like myself also became irrelevant.
My cousin created a go fund me that collected about $2,000.00 and I am very grateful. I spent over $10,000.00 to get started and I would probably need as much if not more to move to a safer town and start over. Any amount would be greatly appreciated.