In October of 2014, Kai Wallace Wright passed away at the age of 12. Kai was a vibrant, kind, funny, and compassionate kid. His passing was tragic and affected not only his family but also his community, from the church to his school, to his jiu-jitsu family.
In the aftermath of his death, his father James wanted to create a foundation and legacy for his son to get the word out and hopefully save one family from going through the horror and pain that his family experienced at the loss of their son. They decide on Kimonos for Kai. Kimonos are the formal name for the gi, which is used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo. Kai was a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo from the age of 4 ½ until his passing. He was a gifted and talented practitioner of the sport and held multiple titles from the Pan American, World, and National competitions. His spirit was fierce. He always gave 110 percent on the mats whether training or competing. He was always humble in victory and gracious in defeat, demonstrating kindness to his opponents and epitomizing good sportsmanship. This held even outside of the dojo and jiu-jitsu world, and Kai defended the weak or bullied in school and those who could not defend themselves. If he saw someone eating alone at school he would invite them to come to join him and always made new friends. In this light, his family wants to continue his legacy of good deeds.
The focus of Kimonos for Kai are the simple phrases, “You are not replaceable,” and “There is always someone to talk to.” (#youarenotreplaceable, #thereisalwayssomeonetotalkto) The goal is to get the word out to young kids and teens that there is always someone they can talk, someone who can help them out with whatever problems they might be facing. If they don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about the problem they are facing, there is always their sensei, a coach, teacher, or other adults. Taking your life is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You are not replaceable.
Kimonos for Kai wants to get the word out that taking your life devastates those around you: your family, friends, and community. We as adults can help you find a solution to your problems, whether it is bullying, abuse from a family member or outsider, or whether you are just down and depressed — just talk to someone. At the end of the day, we want each child to know that (s)he is unique, special to someone, and irreplaceable.