RICHMOND — With a "One, two, three, kiai!" Ethan Scott-Smith broke a board, splitting it down the middle with the ball of his foot.
The kick was part of more than 5,000 made Saturday to raise money for St. Jude's Research Hospital in Memphis, where Ethan was a patient last year.
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Ethan, now 8, had a golf-ball-size tumor removed from his brain in October 2007. He had radiation and chemotherapy at St. Jude's and retuned home to Berea this June.
Ethan and other kids from the Premier Karate Unlimited kicked wooden boards, plastic boards, punching bags, cushy paddles and Wal-Mart bags Saturday in their quest to raise money for St. Jude's.
They took breaks often, but as the afternoon wore on, some of the kicks got smaller and smaller.
Jon Tevis, who runs the Richmond studio that sponsored the event, didn't know how much the kickers had raised.
Ethan wanted to raise money to help the kids who were still at the hospital, said his mom, Tae Scott-Smith of Berea.
Ethan started complaining of headaches during the summer of 2007, Scott-Smith said. He tired easily and started throwing up often, but his parents couldn't figure out what was wrong.
During the fall, his mom took him to a pediatrician in Mississippi, where her parents lived, and the doctor there suspected a tumor.
What followed was a whirlwind of tests, surgery in Memphis and then a transfer to St. Jude's for chemotherapy and radiation.
While he was recovering, Ethan watched lots of Jackie Chan movies and met Steven Seagal. He decided he wanted to learn karate, his mother said. She promised that he could when he was well enough.
So after they returned to Berea, Ethan and his younger brother, Sean, started karate. Ethan now has a yellow belt with one stripe.
Because of the cancer, Ethan has trouble with balance, Tae-Smith said. The tumor affected his right side, and his right hand is still a little shaky. So he's learned to do things left-handed, Scott-Smith said.
Karate has increased his strength and helped him get some of his balance back, Scott-Smith said. When Ethan first started, he couldn't kick without holding on to someone or something to steady himself, Scott-Smith said.
On Saturday, Ethan kicked with the other kids. He broke plastic boards — ones designed to break when kicked correctly — and wooden ones along with classmates and other adults.
Asked how he felt after he broke his third plastic board, Ethan held up a thumb and smiled.