PowerUP Scholarship

From Nervous Beginners to Confident Warriors: Celebrating a Year of Growth in Martial Arts


As I watch Carrie, Angelo, and Terrance prepare for their first tournament, I cannot help but be proud of three 10 year olds I barely know. Each of these students carries their own unique story, their own set of challenges, yet they stand here united by their unwavering determination.

Since beginning their PowerUP Scholarships just over a year ago, North Metro Martial Arts has become their haven. A space where they could embrace their differences and unlock their true potential. Under the guidance of Instructor Scott Tasker, they embarked on a journey of self-discovery, learning not just martial arts techniques but also the invaluable lessons of discipline, resilience, and respect.

With each passing week, their parents have witnessed their remarkable transformation. Carrie’s mother says that her once hesitant and unsure daughter now moves with confidence and grace, her taekwondo becoming a source of strength that gives her the tools needed to succeed in life outside of the studio.

Angelo’s mother tells me that her son’s inability to focus and his boundless energy once presented challenges, but he has learned to channel his thoughts and spirit into focused action. She says this while he admiring how his strikes are swift and precise and that is not something he could have done a year ago.

Terrance’s mother and father are quick to bring up that, when he began taekwondo, he preferred the quiet sidelines, but he now stands tall and almost as proud of himself as his parents clearly are.

Today, as they take their place on the competition floor, they are more than just athletes; they are warriors who have conquered self-doubt and pushed their boundaries. Their story is a testament to the transformative power of the PowerUP Scholarship Fund, a beacon of hope for other children who dream of achieving their full potential but would never have access to classes like this.

Every block and kick they execute is a celebration of their journey and a testament to the unwavering support of our donors. Together, we have empowered these three young warriors and countless others to reach for their dreams, proving that with the right environment and support, anything is possible.

Donate now to make sure that even more students can experience this growth in 2023!

Please note, names in this story have been changed to protect family privacy.

About the author:

Mike Gandy Auzenne

Co-founder, Board Director

Mike Gandy Auzenne

Co-founder, Board Director

Mike is currently a senior director in strategic marketing at Buffalo Wild Wings, and Inspire Brands company. Previously, Mike was a consultant for The Boston Consulting Group (“BCG”), and an investment banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Mike was matched as a Little Brother by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta with Austin in 1997, and has been a Big Brother himself twice. Mike holds a BA from Colgate University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Mike is married, and lives with his wife in the Old Fourth Ward area of Atlanta. He enjoys training for marathons.

Pradheep Padmanathan

Head of Operations

Pradheep Padmanathan

Head of Operations

Strategy& Operations – Technology

MIKE GANDY

Board Director

MIKE GANDY

Board Director

Mike is currently a consultant for The Boston Consulting Group (“BCG”). Prior to BCG, he spent several years on Wall Street with Bank of America Merrill Lynch focused on the insurance industry. Mike was matched as a Little Brother by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta with Austin in 1997, and has been a Big Brother himself twice. He is also a member of the Young Leaders Council with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. Mike holds a BA from Colgate University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Mike is engaged to be married, lives in the Old Fourth Ward area of Atlanta, and enjoys training for marathons.

TREY LAMBERT

Sensei and Gym Owner

TREY LAMBERT

Sensei and Gym Owner

Trey spent 30 years at Delta Airlines in various customer service roles, and worked part time in event security for 20 years while at Delta. Trey has been a black belt for over 15 years, and started volunteering his time teaching karate in the after-school program at Garden Hills Elementary, where his two sons attended. That volunteer work prompted Trey to follow his true passion, teaching martial arts and helping kids. Trey has an AS degree from University of West Georgia, and completed his martial arts training at Kaizen Martial Arts under Sensei Nathan McCleskey. Trey lives near the gym, and is married with two sons, both of whom help at the gym.

RICHARD TRAMMELL

Sensei and Gym Owner

RICHARD TRAMMELL

Sensei and Gym Owner

Richard Trammell is a world champion in Shidokan Karate and Kickboxing. He has won national and international titles in Kickboxing, Judo, and Tae Kwon Do. Richard started Trammell Fitness and Martial Arts in 1999 Shidokan Atlanta in 2001. Trammell Fitness and Martial Arts provides services in fitness and martial arts. Richard has promoted amateur boxing, kickboxing, karate, judo and professional MMA events. Richard is also the author of “How To Be A Champion”.

JOSHUA WHITE

Sensei

JOSHUA WHITE

Sensei

Joshua White is a multiple time national champion in Judo. He hold black belts in in Judo, Ju Jitsu, and Karate. He is the NFC Welterweight MMA Champion.  He is a volunteer coach for Boys and Girls Club in Atlanta. He has coached kids in national and international championships for Judo and promotes annual youth tournaments.

YALITZA FREYTES-RUIZ

Project Coordinator

YALITZA FREYTES-RUIZ

Project Coordinator

Project Coordinator

  • Two decades of service
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico
  • Professional counselor
  • Bachelors degree in Psychology
  • Masters degree in counseling
  • Born in Puerto Rico, Moved to US in 20xx

STÉPHAN DONZÉ

Board Director

STÉPHAN DONZÉ

Board Director

Stéphan is a software entrepreneur with 20 years of experience, first with Exalead (founded in 2000 and acquired by Dassault Systèmes in 2010), and now as founder and CEO of AODocs, a new generation cloud document management platform. Born in France, Stéphan moved to California in 2009, before relocating to Atlanta in 2019. He has two passions in life, entrepreneurship and martial arts, and earned his karate black belt in 2018. His three children are all martial artists as well.

TOM RAWLS

Board Director

TOM RAWLS

Board Director

Tom spent his legal career in Atlanta focusing primarily in the areas of video entertainment, internet and cable TV law. He retired in 2015 after 30 years as in-house counsel for AT&T and Bellsouth. In addition to his work with PowerUP, Tom serves on the board of Tapestri, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to supporting immigrant victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Tom also serves as an advisor to New American Pathways, Georgia Asylum & Immigration Network, and Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta. Tom earned a B.S. in Management from Georgia Tech and a J.D. from Emory School of Law. Tom is married with three grown children. He enjoys martial arts and is a black belt in Taekwando.

AUSTIN SCEE

Co-Founder, Chairman

AUSTIN SCEE

Co-Founder, Chairman

Over the past 20 years, Austin has split his time roughly evenly between running software companies in different operating roles and buying software companies. Austin founded Razorhorse Capital in 2012, and since that time has acquired or invested in over 60 companies with several different private equity sponsors. Austin has been a Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program twice and has served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta. Austin holds a BA from Brown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Austin lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and middle-school aged son. He and enjoys martial arts training.

TOM AVERY

Board Director

TOM AVERY

Board Director

Tom spent his career in investment banking and venture capital in Atlanta. He retired from Raymond James in 2016. In addition to PowerUP, Tom is on the board of KIPP Metro Atlanta (Knowledge is Power Program). KIPP is an open enrollment charter school dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. Tom earned a BS in Industrial Management from Georgia Tech, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Tom is married with three grown children, and lives north of Atlanta. In addition to serving his community, Tom is enjoying traveling the globe with his wife.

MIKE GANDY

Board Director

MIKE GANDY

Board Director

Mike is currently a consultant for The Boston Consulting Group (“BCG”). Prior to BCG, he spent several years on Wall Street with Bank of America Merrill Lynch focused on the insurance industry. Mike was matched as a Little Brother by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta with Austin in 1997, and has been a Big Brother himself twice. He is also a member of the Young Leaders Council with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. Mike holds a BA from Colgate University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Mike is engaged to be married, lives in the Old Fourth Ward area of Atlanta, and enjoys training for marathons.