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Location: Kilgore, TX

Date Of Injury: 4 yrs old

Kenny Lee is a survivor, and he is a fighter; literally and figuratively on both counts. He spent most of his twenties as a professional fighter. He has a love for martial arts, and discovered he had a natural talent. His ring name is Kenneth “The Heat” Booten, a reference to a horrific childhood event that ultimately shaped the man he has become. When he was 4, he was caught in a house fire. He suffered severe burns to his hands, face, chest, back, and arms. He underwent treatments and surgeries for most of his youth, into his teenage years. He also was the victim of merciless bullying. There was a turning point though, when he’d had enough, and he started fighting back. In fighting back, he eventually found a new calling…. Although, I would imagine he caused many grey hairs for his mother, Becky, before he managed to channel some of that anger into a positive direction!

Kenny fell in love with martial arts, and focused on jujitsu. He became involved in MMA fighting, moving up and eventually going pro. Unfortunately, he injured his left knee, tearing the MCL. He opted to forgo surgical repair, as he was uninsured and could not afford the $12,000 cost. Additionally, he had responsibilities, and needed to get back to work. So he put on a knee brace and started working after 2 weeks. Then after another couple, began training again… anyone who knows him well can join me in a collective sigh… stubborn Irish fighter, that he is.

Due to the instability that was now present in his knee, Kenny went back to boxing, something he had tried early in his fighting career. He managed to go pro in this sport as well, but the knee problems persisted, and he re-injured it multiple times. He finally decided, just within the last 4-5 months, that he would hang up the gloves, at least competitively, and instead pursue teaching the sport.

That brings us to October 9, 2015… A few weeks earlier, an old coach called him up and asked if he could come participate in an exhibition match for a charity. The charity was raising money for children who were burn victims… he wasn’t in shape, would need to lose weight… he wanted to do it, but didn’t think he was ready. But the coach wasn’t particularly accepting no as an answer. So about a week before the date, Kenny Lee decided, what the heck… it was for a good cause, it was just an exhibition match, he’d do it.

All along, he thought it would be a boxing match. We arrive to Marshall, TX on October 9th. They’re having a biker rally to support the charity. He’s helping get things set up… and that’s when we find out that this is an MMA event, not boxing. His knee can’t really support that type of fight, but he knew the guy he was matched against, and thought everything would be OK. We found out more about the charity, and it is such a good cause. It’s a camp for children who are burn victims… somewhere they go, and are just like everyone else. Somewhere they fit in, and don’t have to hide. Somewhere that kids are nice to each other, and don’t get bullied for scars they cannot help. Really, you should check it out and donate if you’re able: Camp I’m Still Me

Back to Kenny Lee though…. he didn’t get kicked in his knee, he didn’t fall on it… he just landed a jump in the wrong way… and down he went. We thought it was dislocated, but that wasn’t it. It wasn’t better after a day, so we went to the hospital – nothing broken, but they wanted him to see an orthopedist. We waited though, to see if it would get better… but it didn’t. He cannot fully straighten it, he can bear some weight, but it’s extremely unstable. The pain was pretty bad for the first few days, but has gotten better now that the swelling is down.

So Kenny can’t work, because he’s a painter and needs to be able to squat down, climb ladders, and in general would need to get around a whole lot better than he can right now. He’s considered self-employed because he’s a contract worker, and he doesn’t have insurance. He found an orthopedist that quoted a $125 payment for a visit to find out what’s wrong with his knee, and went to that appointment on October 28, 2015.

The orthopedist says the ACL is torn and probably the meniscus as well. The doc said basically, he needs a total reconstruction of his knee. Probably 3 months on crutches, no telling how much therapy, not entirely sure when he’d be able to work again. But you know what? Kenny hasn’t been able to compete in a long time, and it’s been even longer since he could do so without having to worry about his left knee and whether it would get hurt in the fight. This doctor told my Kenny Lee that he will be able to fight again, that his knee will be even better than it was before the first time he injured it… that it will be good as new.

So there’s a bright ray of sunshine people. I could see that there was a part of him that thought he’d never fight again, and it bothered him. Even if it wasn’t at pro level, I know he wanted to participate in the sport he loved without constantly having to protect an old injury. There’s a chance he can do this now. BUT… he doesn’t have insurance. He can’t even get the MRI the doctor needs to plan the surgery unless he shows up with $400 in hand. He hasn’t worked in three weeks, we both have kids to support… we’re a little lost right now and we need help.

I’m not a big fan of asking for help, and I can assure you Mr. Booten is not either! But I’ll swallow my pride if he’ll swallow his, because these crowd fundraising sites have such a unique factor…. If everyone on his friends list on Facebook gave $10… that would be $5,000 guys! I don’t know how much we need to come up with yet, because we haven’t even gotten the MRI so the doc can lay out the plan. I’ve had him on the phone calling every financial assistance resource I can find, but nothing is panning out so far. I love this man, and I want him to get better. I want him to have what he lost 7 years ago, to feel completely well, no injuries.

More importantly though, Kenny HAS to have this surgery. There’s really no other option. He can’t walk without a cane right now… his knee cap is kind of just jiggling around in there, he can’t bear much weight on it… it just has to be repaired. There’s no slapping a brace on this one.

So I ask anyone who reads this to help if you can. If it’s a dollar, a quarter… anything will be very gratefully and humbly accepted. If I could do it myself I would; if his family could do it, they would. We just don’t have the resources. Thank you so much for your time, and even if you cannot help, please share this. Kenneth may just be one man to the world, but he is the whole world to me, and to his daughters, and to more people than he probably realizes. We just want him to be healthy again, and we need your help.

If you can help Kenny please click HERE.