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GurlFytrz gets in the gift-giving mood

Adia Waldburger Of the Record staff

Sometimes out of adversity comes inspiration.

Or hope or compassion or whatever that quality it is that drives Marcia Mason to want to make a difference in the world. Mason, a karate sensei that runs martial arts schools in Park City, Heber and Bountiful, has endured three divorces and plenty of pain. It is because of that pain that she and other friends who had been through divorces themselves, decided to found GurlFytrz ( pronounced girl fighters), a non-profit that caters specifically to single, battered and abused mothers.

Right now, GurlFytrz offers karate scholarships to children of single mothers, free self-defense to abused women, self-defense seminars, counseling assessments, financial counseling, legal referrals, donations of clothes, food and even free horse care lessons to women in need.

"We’d like to build their self esteem to be on their own," Mason said.

And her background has taught her that being strong is made of different parts, which is why she has added so many services besides self-defense.

"It’s not so much to teach self-defense, but to get them to get out of the closet," Mason said.

She feels that once women can be in a safe and empowering environment, they will feel safe enough to share their experiences and their physical well-being will lead to improving emotional and mental well-being.

"Being healthy and exercising will help you when going through depression," Mason said.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the organization that uses the symbol of two pink boxing gloves to underline their mission to help fight domestic abuse. Mason has dreams of raising enough money to remodel a shop on her two-acres of horse property in Wanship where two battered women at a time can come and live while they try to rebuild their lives. That dream has a $200,000 price tag, and eventually she envisions a $10 million ranch for battered women, but for now Mason is making a difference on a small scale and she knows one day she can one day do it on a much grander scale.

GurlFytrz works in conjunction with the Peace House and other programs that aid abused women and is committed to doing as much as possible in all areas. This Christmas, that all-out commitment will take the form of a toy drive for families in need. Mason’s karate schools, Peak Karate will literally "kick off" their endeavor on Saturday, Dec. 1 by doing an in-house karate tournament at the Silver Mountain Sports Club in Prospector. Students from each of her schools are encouraged to compete and must contribute a new toy along with their $15 entry fee. She is also inviting spectators, who can enter for the admission of a toy. After the event, drop-off points will be set up all over Summit and Wasatch Counties so others can donate new toys to the cause.

"It’s almost Christmas and that’s the thing that will help them most and make them happy and the kids happy," Mason said.

Mason will work with local churches, the Peace House and other organizations to identify families that need help over the holidays. She adds that all types of toys will be welcome, including those for older children.

"Single moms have kids of all ages," Mason said.

She even said presents for mothers would be welcomed.

"What mom doesn’t need stuff for Christmas?" Mason said.

She remembers one Christmas, after one of her divorces, somebody helped her family out during the Christmas holiday,

"It was such a gift for my kids and me," Mason said. "I just want people to be happy at Christmas, not sad."

There are also opportunities besides toy donations. Monetary donations may be made online at http://www.gurlfytrz.com and Mason says that she is always accepting clothes donations year-round. She is also currently trying to form an advisory board for the non-profit. Mason is encouraging both men and women that are interested in the GurlFytrz mission to apply, as she is careful to point out that the program is not in the business of man-hating, just building women up.

"We want to teach that there are a lot of nice men and how to see red flags," Mason said.

The Peak Karate and GurlFytrz Holiday Toy Drive is supported by Park City Television, Silver Mountain Sports Club, Visentin Tree Service of Heber and Mountain Valley Stone and will run through Dec. 20. Drop-off locations include:

– Kimball Junction Silver Mountain Sports Club Park City

– Prospector Silver Mountain Sports Club Park City

– Silver Creek Animal Hospital 6443 N. Business Park Loop Rd. Park City

– Spring Chicken Inn Wanship

– Heber Valley Physical Therapy and Fitness 190 N. Main St. Heber City

– Nielson Chiropractic 380 East Main St. Suite B102 Midway

The kick-off tournament will be held on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Silver Mountain Sports Club in Prospector. Visit http://www.gurlfyterz.com for more information on the fundraiser, the mission and programs of GurlFytrz and other information about domestic abuse.


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