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Pepper, a blue pit bull mix waits for volunteers to open the door for play time outside at J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter. File photo

NEW ALBANY — Terry Middleton is a martial arts legend. He is a 10th-degree black belt and a member of the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame and American Martial Arts Alliance Hall of Fame. And since 1972, he has operated a successful kickboxing/boxing and self-defense school in downtown New Albany.

With all that success, he wouldn’t have to worry about raising funds for local animal shelters.

But he does.

Since January of this year, Middleton has been selling city-specific T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats at area events and at his martial arts school, 117 E. Market St., with all the proceeds going to both the New Albany-Floyd County and J.B. Ogle animal shelters. To date, he said merchandise sales are closing in on $6,000.

Not only does he sell the shirts, but he also designed them and put up $8,000 to get the project rolling.

“I get absolutely nothing out of it ... I don’t need anything,” he said. “I have been designing shirts for the karate school since the early 1980s and I am a regular contributor to the animal shelter. I knew if I designed and sold shirts, I could give more. I wanted to do something bigger.”

So he went to work.  

First, he designed the New Albany shirt, which reads “New Albany, Indiana Est. 1813” and has an image of the Robert E. Lee in the center. The Jeff shirt says “Jeffersonville, Indiana Est. 1803” with the Mississippi Queen image on the shirt. Middleton also recently introduced another shirt, which has an image of the Belle of Louisville, to sell at the Louisville animal shelter.

“Steamboats are our heritage,” he said. “It was only natural to put them on the shirts. It really didn’t take very long to design the shirt. I just sent my guy the idea and he put it together.”

Besides his place of business, the shirts are also sold at the animal shelters and at various businesses in downtown New Albany.

Middleton is not finished growing his idea, however.

He said he is “trying to hit a home run” by getting the shirts inside a major retailer. He also just finished a social media video this week, promoting the shirts.

Middleton has always had a love for animals, and helping those in need. He said when David Hall, director of the New Albany Floyd County shelter, comes to him with a need, he has always made sure to have that need filled.

“We love the animals,” he said. “I would go down there every so often and give them some money for cages or whatever they needed. If he needs something, we will get it for him.”

Hall said Middleton “has a heart for the animals.”

“He’s the biggest community guy .... Terry has been amazing,” Hall said. “He wants to make sure we are taken care of and goes above and beyond.”

The T-shirts sell for $20; sweatshirts are $35; crew-neck shirts are $30; and the hats are $20. He said he has plenty of merchandise on hand and hopes the program continues to prosper in 2020.

“Money I don’t need and I love animals and want to help them,” Middleton said. “You just have to go out there and do it ... if you do, everybody wins.”

Chris Morris is an assistant editor at the News and Tribune. Contact him via email at Follow him on Twitter: @NAT_ChrisM.

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