Taken in the Fall of 2004
Jeromy was about 4 years old, Kim was about 12 or 13.
Kim was a blue belt in karate, and Jer was a white belt.
Just barely a teenager, Kim was already on her way to being an assistant instructor to her dad, who was the Sensei of the school. Even then she was playing a vital role in helping the younger students learn the karate techniques, always making them feel comfortable, and explaining things at their level to make sure they understood. And even at this age, her skills as a 'child whisperer' were evident. All the little karate kids would flock to her because they knew she always had a warm hug and smile for them.
Jeromy was just starting out, a bit terrified of course, but Kim was always there to make him feel comfortable, and guide him patiently through every step of the way. He was so cute in his little karate uniform, and I loved watching him learn not just karate moves, but self-confidence and discipline. These two became fast friends, and Jer looked up to her as an example.
Summer of 2009
Jeromy is almost 9 years old, and Kim is 17.
Kim has earned her black belt in Mixed Martial Arts, and Jeromy his blue belt.
Five years later, and these two are still great friends, closer than ever. Kim is a full-fledged instructor at her Dad's school, and she has remained a very important part of instructing the younger students. This young woman, as tough a warrior as she is, has perfected her gentle assertiveness, and the little mma kids still continue to flock to her, because she has never run out of warm hugs and smiles for them.
Jeromy has come a long way since his white belt days, and not just in his knowledge of mixed arts techniques. He's learned much more important elements of the art: confidence, discipline, respect, humility, and compassion. Following Kim's example, he's been known to help out students of a younger age and/or lower rank. I still love to watch him as he practices techniques, throws, and even the ground fighting (the ju jitsu portion of the class).
I've watched these two grow so much in the past five years, and how they've grown closer in that time. Kim works as a lifeguard at the pool where her mom, my BFF Lisa, has been generous enough to take us this summer. And when Kim isn't on life guard duty, she and Jer enjoy hanging out and swimming.
I know these two will be friends for a long time. And I must say, I can think of no better friend to have my Jeromy's back than a kind, strong, and loving young woman like Kim.