Ben Evans kicked off his latest fundraising campaign with a king hit when he smashed his own personal record and raised a bit of cash in the process.

Ben kicked through 10 roof tiles, three up on another display in front of a "really impressed" John Key four years ago.

Last Monday's New Zealand International Taekwon-do Federation's (NZITF) campaign launch at the Globe Theatre raised about $5000 for the local organisation's trip to next year's biennial world taekwon-do champs in Argentina, where Ben will take a group of 15 special needs and eight mainstream competitors.

The 27-year-old has been coaching taekwon-do since his student days at Havelock North High School, when he brought martial arts to the special needs unit.


Numbers have grown steadily since then - Ben now teaches up to 24 mainstream and special needs classes a week in nine different schools and organisations. He is looking to offer classes at St Matthew's in Hastings and Te Awa in Napier.

"It's expanded turbulently. We feel an obligation to support those with special needs. Our training is quite alternative, but it works," he says.

A crowd of about 50 spectators enjoyed an introductory training video before a taekwon-do demonstration by special needs and mainstream participants. Election candidate David Elliot and gold medal winner Aidan McCance's mother were guest speakers on the night, with Simon Tremain running an auction.

Ben says the team has "excellent" support, including their own business excellence coaches, Eileen Page and David Trim.

"We have a really dynamic team of professionals involved."

Next year's August excursion will not be the first chance at gold for some members of the NZITF team. Last year they brought home three gold, three silver and three bronze medals from the worlds.

"Not too bad for only seven members," Ben says. He believes having mainstream and special needs students working together has formed a strong bond and encourages each to get to first place.

This year a "huge" delegation of 50 is going to Argentina - 23 competitors and the rest support and caregivers, including Ben's partner Emily and one-year-old daughter Lila.

To get to their $75,000 fundraising target before they leave next July - which is about $5000 per athlete - more than a few sausages will need to be sizzled. Ben says pledges of around $900 on the night, including $200 from Taradale Medical Centre was a strong start to their campaign.

"We will be hitting the cruise ships hard and we're planning a golf tournament - we're working really hard."

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