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Local Karate Studio Grants Thousands to STAT Program

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An organization that helps children with disabilities is getting some support from a local karate studio.

Ochiai's Karate Studio presented a check to the the Southern Tier Alternative Therapies Program Saturday.

Hidy Ochiai's Karate Studio in Vestal has been involved with giving back to the community for more than two decades.

"We're all in it together, that's what it is. We're all in it together in this world so we try to help each other whenever we can. but in order to help others, one has to be strong first," said Hidy Ochiai,Washin-Ryu master instructor.

And in order to be strong, you need the proper teacher.

Romeo Rojas had never been able to speak until his family discovered the Southern Tier Alternative Therapies program that slowly taught him ways to communicate.

"Having a child who's three years old and not verbal and not speaking and getting to the level where he's going to kindergarten and he's speaking, that's the main goal. Every child can have a voice. Every child can communicate. It doesn't matter if they do it with words or if they use a computer. Everyone's able to communicate and find a voice," said Tina Caswell, speech language pathologist.

The $3,500 check will be used to purchase iPads that have help children like Romeo speak for the very first time.

"You come to realize that there are no limits. There are no limits for him. People want to say, 'oh he'll never talk, oh he'll never potty train,' but he is and he's doing well and we have no limits on him. We want him to have a full, successful life and we're working towards that," said Rose McCabe, Romeo's grandmother.

And romeo wasn't shy in telling me who his favorite football team was.
"Steelers!"

The iPad let's Romeo use pictures to communicate and has helped him learn new words every day.

"Who knows inside him what he has. Maybe some great idea visually might come out eventually and he'll contribute to humanity."