It’s truly a privilege to witness someone go through our program and come into their own after their experience with PAL. Our very own Derek Calderon was once an avid PAL who grew up throughout our program. It began with his older siblings who were also part of the program, and it was through witnessing their involvement in the Martial Arts program that he developed the same drive and passion to join as well.

Despite being rather young and begging the instructor to let him join, Derek’s time eventually came. He became part of the PAL family at the tender age of five. Though Martial Arts was the only program he participated in, Derek was in attendance for most PAL sponsored events. He vividly remembers going on field trips to Knotts, beach days, and Saturday Night Lights. Though he was there to enjoy the festivities, he and his family often volunteered to lend the PAL staff a helping hand which added to his budding sense of community.

It was through Martial Arts that he learned applicable skills such as discipline, patience, and a strong will to always work hard in whatever he puts his mind to. Being the smallest kid in the program, he felt within himself that he could accomplish anything that he was willing to tackle. These skills prepared him for things in life that he hadn’t seen coming, giving him a greater advantage in handling what was thrown his way. He was determined to match the energies around him, despite his size. To become a better version of himself was the goal. With that mentality, Derek went on to train in Martial Arts for twelve and a half years, earning his black belt.

Setting new goals into his adult life, Derek finished college to become a Powerline Mechanic. With nothing more than a few hurdles remaining, his plans are to enter that profession full time after having served as a Hollywood PAL Staff member since high school. The impact that he has made as a Martial Arts instructor for the new generation of PAL kids has brought him so much joy and fulfillment as he instills in them the same skills he did. It’s more than just “kicks and punches” and self-defense techniques but learning to be respectful and giving it their all in any aspect of their life. Derek wants to continue to be an example and reason for them to want to be better.

We are exceptionally proud of the young man Derek has turned into and admire the passion he has displayed throughout his time with Hollywood PAL. He is a testament to the hard work one can achieve through sheer hard work and determination to be a force of good with compassion. No matter where he goes in life, he will always be our PAL.

Join us April 28th for the
2024 HPAL Car Show !