Tulsa Boy Overcomes Obstacles Using Martial Arts
TULSA, Oklahoma - Practicing martial arts takes time, dedication and strength, just like in any sport.
And some instructors in Broken Arrow are proving anyone can work toward a black belt, including children with special needs.
One young man named Liam is overcoming his physical limitations to reach for his goals.
Liam Epperson is a fighter.
"He's fought through so many battles already in his life," said Liam's mom, Rochelle.
She watches him practice tae kwon do each week through a window.
"He's my hero," Rochelle said.
"You think you're having a bad day and he comes in and he's like, 'hey how you doin'?' You get all teary. He's just such a cool kid," said Jim Hammons, Chief Instructor.
Liam is missing part of his 18th chromosome.
At birth, doctors told his mom he likely wouldn't eat on his own, talk or walk.
But at 11 years old and a year into practicing tae kwon do, he's doing a lot more than walking.
"Something we never thought would happen, and he's doing a wonderful job," his mother said.
Liam just earned his green belt, and already has his sights set on his next goal.
"He wants a black belt. He's cued in, he knows that that's the ultimate goal," Rochelle said.
Martial Arts Advantage Instructors Martin Garcia and Jim Hammons are also working with kids who have Down syndrome, Asperger syndrome, autism and other special needs.
"It's not the color of the belt, it's what's in your heart," Hammons said. "So when those guys put that on, they know they've earned it."
Liam let us in on his secret on how he got this far, and how he plans to keep going.
"I never quit!" he said.