Warrior Journey to have spaghetti fundraiser this Saturday

by Todd Brooks
Keith Hampton works with a Warrior Journey student in June 2019. Keith Hampton works with a Warrior Journey student in June 2019.

The name has slightly changed, but the purpose is still the same.

Last year, Keith Hampton, a Comanche police officer, started Warrior Path, a mixed martial arts class for foster children and others. The purpose is to help steer children to make the right choices in life.

Now known as Warrior Journey, the program is still going strong even though he is working with 10 new students.

This Saturday, the Masonic Lodge No. 41 in Comanche is helping Warrior Journey with a fundraiser for new equipment. The groups are teaming up for a spaghetti dinner beginning at at 6 p.m. at the Asbury Center.

The lodge is also going to match any funds raised up to $5,000.

"(Warrior Journey) has kind of taken on a life of its own," Hampton said. "We are turning it into a non-profit. We're just waiting on the paperwork from the IRS."

While the mixed martial arts training is important - it teaches discipline, good behavior, confidence and self-control - Hampton says there is something else just as important.

"He sit around the mat and talk," Hampton said. "We talk about training the spirit, dealing with peer pressure and bullying. We talk about doing the right thing and talking to an adult they can trust to see what the right thing to do might be."

He also encourages them to volunteer.

"They can help others. They are surprised to see that there are ways young people can make a difference," Hampton said.

The police officer sees Warrior Journey as part of his job.

"I used to think the best way I could serve my community when I started in law enforcement was to go out and arrest as many people possible doing drugs and selling drugs and things like that," Hampton said. "I started to see the kids, though, at the homes of the people I was arresting. I started thinking we were frequently waiting until they turn 18 so we can arrest them for the same things. It was a perpetual cycle."

He wanted to find something to fill that void in the children's lives and for someone to point them in the right direction.

"I wanted to show them going down the wrong path is no good," Hampton said. "In a lot of ways, this is a way I am protecting and serving the community. I'm trying to help these kids not go down the wrong path instead of waiting for them to turn 18 so I can make an arrest."

The money from the fundraiser will be used to buy equipment for the class like pads, mats, body shields and sparring gear.

"It has been good to see these kids come into their own," Hampton said. "A lot of these kids didn't know they have a choice in the direction their life could go and now they do."

The class meets on Fridays and volunteers are always welcome, especially those with martial arts background.

For more information, contact Warrior Journey through its Facebook page or by calling Hampton at 580-475-95933.