Christopher James Canning, a former student and accomplished martial artist
passed away in 2001,
at the age of 15 years old.
In just four years, Chris was a member of 11 state teams in Illinois and
Missouri, and won 15 state titles
and 3 national titles accumulating 15 gold, six silver, and four bronze at
the state level and three gold, one
silver, and one bronze in national competition. He was an All American, Illinois
Athlete of the Year and
trained at the Olympic Training Center. As a result of his martial arts
achievements, he was inducted into
both the US and World Martial Arts Halls of Fame along with induction into
two other international
Martial Arts Halls of Fame. Also, the World Headquarters of the World Ildokwan
Federation, in the
U.K., promoted Chris to Black Belt 2nd Dan for achieving excellence and elite
status in the Martial Arts.
Each Hall of Fame that honored Chris with membership, adopted an annual award
in his name and
presents it to one martial artist who most represents what he accomplished
and believed in.
Chris applied the discipline of his martial arts training and its Tenets
to his personal life as well. In school,
he was an honor student, part of the choir and school band, and heavily involved
in athletics playing as a
starter on his schools football, basketball and baseball teams.
He carried his energy into to the field of music playing classical piano,
drums and guitar. As a citizen
within his community, Chris helped the needy, elderly, and the homeless.
His love for animals was
demonstrated by working at his grandparents animal shelter, caring
for and finding homes for
abandoned animals. His friendship was dedicated, true, and like a second
family to him.
Regardless of his determination to avoid recognition for his efforts, many
came before and after his
passing. His family received a personal letter of recognition from the President
of the United States,
he was a recipient of the U.S. Presidents Student Service Gold Award,
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin
made a speech in his honor on the Senate Floor in Washington, D.C., the U.S.
Illinois sent a letter of tribute, and he was awarded the U.S. Point of Lights
Award for his community involvement. In addition, his hometown of Maroa,
Illinois approved a
memorial in the city park and his high school established an athletic display
and paid tribute to him
at the 2004 graduation ceremonies (the year he would have graduate).
Chris was very modest and became embarrassed with the honors and tributes
that came to him. He
would do his best to avoid the media, play down his own accomplishments,
and praise the
achievements of others. Chris touched everyone he came in contact with, in
a very positive and
It is in this spirit that the Chris Canning Award of Excellence is given
to a Taekwondo athlete that
most embodies Chris personal attributes of dedication, perseverance,
humility, care and concern
for others, and artistic endeavors such as music, acting and writing, as
well as academic excellence
and martial arts accomplishments at the national level.