With the COVID-19 pandemic causing the unforeseen closures and suspension of services by businesses in the community, Stillwater business owners have been thrust into situations many could not have prepared for.
Oklahoma Taekwondo, 119 E. 8th Ave., is owned by Todd Brown, a 5th Dan Blackbelt. Brown said when the City of Stillwater declared a state of emergency for the pandemic, classes were put on hold and the tuition of students was frozen.
“The school’s kind of a month to month business, anyway,” Brown said. “We had recently invested quite a bit of our own money in the school in order to expand the services that we offer. Those services were set to begin this summer and in the fall. And once we weren’t allowed to have classes anymore, all of the income kind of got put on hold, and people got kind of nervous about gathering and working in a group setting.”
With some assistance from the Small Business Association, Oklahoma Taekwondo was able to get through the month of May. Brown said with summer being OKTD’s slowest time of the year, services were expanded to offer summer programs, which were canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. Brown said it left OKTD “dead in the water, so to speak,” and a GoFundMe account was created to help get the business through the rest of the summer and into the fall. A goal of raising $8,000 has nearly been met, with nearly $6,500 donated as of Thursday.
For many years, when Oklahoma Taekwondo has been sold, it has been sold to a former student by the master. Brown has been involved with OKTD since 1990 and credits martial arts training for providing him numerous lessons over the years. He said the response to the GoFundMe page reflects the bond that grows between those involved in Taekwondo.
“As people learn and grow as individuals and they start to see for themselves the positive influences not only on themselves, but on their fellow students,” Brown said. “You realize how beneficial it is to everyone, and you just want to continue that tradition. And that’s what has happened over the years as it has changed hands. It’s always been about keeping that tradition going, helping people grow.
“I think it speaks for itself that we had such a great response for the GoFundMe. Because I think the people who are involved with the school either as a student or a parent, or of a friend or family member, they see the positive effects that it has on people and it’s an easy thing to support, really. I think it just speaks to the benefits Taekwondo brings. When you see how many people want to support, it just makes me feel really good. It makes me feel like I’ve made the impact that I wanted to make.”
Oklahoma Taekwondo has tried everything it can to keep providing its services. A live streamed class is offered five days a week that people can take part in, and two classes per day are offered Monday through Friday. The in-person classes have a maximum of nine people and all taking part are required to wear a mask.
Brown said an after school program will be offered when school starts back up. Anyone interested in the after school program can email Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone interested in donating to the GoFundMe page can do so by visiting gofundme.com and searching “Help Oklahoma Taekwondo Stay Open.”
“We want to be able to survive through the pandemic to where we can get past this summer,” Brown said.” And once the after school program kicks off, I think we’ll be successful and be able to continue on.”