“I’ll be representing the United States. I’ll be representing California and even Las Vegas,” Grace Rotondo said with excitement and a smile.
Grace Rotondo, 10, has fought her way to the top, literally, and is now eligible to fight as a representative of the 2014 United States National Junior Kickboxing Team for the World Championship in Rimini, Italy early this fall.
“It’s kind of like the Olympics except for karate,” Grace said.
At the age of 3 Grace was done watching on the sidelines of her older brother AJ’s martial arts competitions and began training herself. Now Grace has eight trophies that stand seven feet tall from various kickboxing competitions.
Grace, a fourth grader at Hoxsie Elementary, trains in kickboxing with Don Rodrigues Karate Academy under Louise Therrien and Lisa Gabriel. At the Ocean State Grand Nationals, which was twofold in that it was also the tryouts for the national junior team, Grace had the most points out of those in her age and weight group.
Her mother, Melissa Rotondo said, “She is really sweet and has a lot of friends through kickboxing, but once she is in a fight it’s game on. Grace has a really high and powerful kick. Her competitors just can’t block it.”
“When I want to play with the boys they say what are you going to do, beat us up,’ and it’s funny because that’s exactly what I could do,” Grace joked when asked about if boys underestimate her.
The trip to Italy is important to Grace and her family for more than just the once in a lifetime chance to fight for the National Kickboxing team. Grace’s grandmother, Rose Rotondo, had always had a trip to Italy on her bucket list but was unable to make the pilgrimage before she passed.
Now Grace wants to bring a piece of Italy back for her grandmother’s grave, what the family calls her “garden.”
Grace and her family need help to get to Italy and are holding a community fundraising dinner. On Saturday, June 28 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the Elks Lodge #14 at 1915 West Shore Rd, there will be a dinner catered by Blue Moon Catering out of the Warwick FOP. The tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. DJ Hughie Cabana has donated his time for the event, and there will also be raffles throughout the night. The raffles include a remote-controlled helicopter, a tablet, a printer, a laptop and Bluetooth waterproof speakers. There will also be handmade jewelry, a hair care system package and an Avon basket as well as a Stop & Shop gift card.
The family is still open to receiving donations for raffles and for the trip as well. They truly appreciate any form of support that helps them get to Italy for the Championships to be held September 6-14.
Tickets will be sold at the door, but it is best to get them in advance. For more information and to purchase tickets contact Grace’s mother, Melissa, by her cell phone 286-4596. You can text or call leaving a message with your name, contact information and how many tickets you would like to purchase. Melissa can also be contacted by her email at Melr2345@yahoo.com.
For those who cannot attend but would still like to donate, Grace has a online fundraiser on www.gofundme.com. You can either search her name on the sight or go straight to www.gofundme.com/83dhus.
Grace extended gratitude and said, “Thank you to everyone who will help me get to my dream of karate by getting to Italy.”