Ms. Judy: A Portrait of Perseverance » Oklahoma Sports & Fitness Athlete Blog | Running | Triathlon | Cycling | Fitness | Martial Arts | Powered by Oklahoma Sports & Fitness Magazine

Jun 122015

Ms. Judy

“Well, I’m off to kick small children”, says Ms. Judy as she leaves her office to teach karate. Her co-workers return her quirky departure with inquisitive “have you lost your mind?” looks. “Hey, they hit back” she replies with mock exasperation.

Judy Stokley was the portrait of perseverance. Despite her advanced age, she started karate with her daughters and was initially “doing this for them.” The girls found other activities, but Judy stayed in, trained hard and taught faithfully. She was the only woman instructor in the two schools she attended.

When I started as a white belt, if Judy said “you can do this,” we girls believed her because she was a black belt so we’d hang in there. Incidentally, when you are a white belt, black belts know EVERYthing.

After years of teaching, training, competition and missions, she was to be awarded an honorary second degree black belt. Instead of just accepting it, Judy informed her instructors that she would prefer to fight for it just like everyone else…and she did. Her co-workers panicked at the two black eyes Monday morning but she wore them proudly.

Ms. Judy was a fighter and won four bouts with cancer. Even during chemo, she came to class. Since she rarely mentioned she was sick, some students never knew. Even if she had to teach from a folding chair, she’d show up and love on her students. The fifth round was a beast, yet, as always, she fought on her terms. Then she went home, literally and figuratively.

I want to give up but I won’t give up.
I’m sick ’tis true, worried and blue,
and worn through and through, but I’ll never give up.

I want to give up but I won’t give up.
So, in life’s race I’ll keep a strong pace.
I’ll not slow down, I’ll gain that crown. I’ll never give up.

I want to give up but I won’t give up.
I’ll fight hard each round till I hear the bell sound.
Yes, I’m heaven bound. I’ll never give up.

- Denny Holzbauer and anonymous

Her example is an inspiration to those of us blessed to know her because she lived by expectations and not excuses.

person of the year

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