Chop for a cop Martial arts students break boards to aid injured officer


The Telegraph

ALTON -- Martial arts students and teachers chopped away at Alton police officer Sam Riney’s medical expenses Saturday during a fund-raiser for the injured patrolman.

Piasa Martial Arts, an Alton-based tae kwon do school, of which Riney is a member, put on a two-hour board-breaking fund-raiser Saturday at Alton Square. Between 60 and 70 students of all ages took part in the event.

More than $9,000 was raised through donations, a raffle and the board break-a-thon, organizers said.

Riney, 27, a rookie officer with the Alton Police Department who was critically injured Dec. 19 in a head-on traffic collision on Fosterburg Road, has received an outpouring of support from the community where he grew up.

His sister, Emily Riney, 23, said a lot of immediate and extended family members -- some traveling from out-of-town -- were on hand Saturday.

"The support from the community has been absolutely phenomenal," she said.

During the fund-raiser, Riney’s mother, Gwen Riney, his wife, Kate Riney, and Emily Riney were introduced to the crowd of about 150 to 200 people.

Emily Riney, a second-degree red belt and also a member of Piasa Martial Arts, even broke two boards for the audience. She said she recently got back into martial arts after an eight-year hiatus because of her brother.

"I just got back into it a couple weeks ago," she said. "Sam is my motivational factor. He made me realize there is no time like the present."

Organizing for the fund-raiser began around Jan. 1, with some of the younger Piasa Martial Arts students collecting sponsors for board-breaking. For each board broken, sponsors paid out a dollar amount.

Sonny Hatten of Piasa Martial Arts recalled Sam Riney as a youngster enrolled in his tae kwon do program with Emily. Sam Riney is a second-degree black belt. Hatten said the Saturday fund-raiser also taught his current students a lesson.

"We provided an entertainment option to the crowd, but it also gave the students an opportunity to learn about the importance of community service and to look out for our own," Hatten said.

Hatten’s daughter, Virginia "Ginny" Hatten, said Riney had taken on a lesser role at the tae kwon do school in recent years but still was a volunteer, last helping out at an overnight stay for younger students at the school.

"He was at our last overnighter in December," Ginny Hatten said. "He’s really good with the kids."

Knife Source, a participating store in the fund-raiser, donated 5 percent of its total profits from Saturday’s sales to the Sam J. Riney Benefit Fund. Other businesses also participated through a raffle that raised about $1,000 of the $9,000 total.

Another benefit for Sam Riney is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the Golden Corral Family Steakhouse, 2723 Corner Court, in Alton. Staff from ReMax RiverBend and ReMax Express will act as servers and all tips will go to benefit Same and Kate Riney.

Wow, good for these people, and check out the drama at the bottom of the article as well!