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Dani Auberger of Sparta will represent the U.S. in the World Karate Championships later this year in London, England.

First Degree Black Belt Dani Auberger, 13, of Sparta, was recently selected to represent the United States in the 2014 World Karate Championships that take place later this year in London, England.

“This has been a long road,” says the Upper Cumberland teen, who has literally been involved in martial arts since learning to walk.

“I was only 15 months old when I competed in my first competition.”

Dani loves the competition and everything that goes with it, especially the feeling of accomplishment. She has won several regional championships, the Tennessee state championship, and even a national championship.

But four years ago, her career was sidetracked after being struck by a car driven by someone that was texting while driving in a state park. She suffered hip and skull fractures and began a rehab regimen that she continues today.

Dani was determined that her injuries would not keep her down for long. She fought back to continue her passion for karate – although she may have come back to action a little too soon.

“I had persistent hip bursitis and struggled to regain the strength I needed to compete at the level I had been,” stated Dani. “But God is good, and through much prayer, dedication and determination, I have made it back.”

After recently earning the Regional Black Belt Triple Crown, winning weapons, forms and fighting styles, she continues training even harder for much of each day.

She travels to Indiana twice a month to work out with the U.S. team coach.

“I am strength training and conditioning. I have set my sights on Gold,” Dani says emphatically.

But she has found that determination alone will not allow her a chance for the Gold Medal at the World Championships. So Dani is working hard to find a way to pay the costs for the trips she must make to achieve her goals.

“My mom said I can use some of my savings for this,” says Dani. “(But) I still need another $2,500.”

Dani has raised some of the money through sponsorships, including from Payless Family Pharmacy, Don Randolph Investment Services, Attorney Michael Rocco, Express Graphics, Red Turner Sporting Goods and Charles Bell, owner and president of

Compugeeks Computer & I.T Solutions Inc., all of Sparta.

“This inspiring young girl has done a lot to get to where she is and we’re happy to help as much as we can,” stated Bell. “But she is still going to need more financial assistance.”

Between Dani’s savings and what she has been able to raise, she has covered half of the costs and is ready to earn the rest.

Dani is offering to put the names of sponsors from local businesses on T-shirts that she will be trading with her teammates, as well as with competitors from around the world.

“I am also offering to come to your business and do a karate demonstration. Some of my other karate friends from here in Sparta have volunteered to help as well,” says the small-town karate kid.

Anyone wishing to support Dani may contact her mother at (931) 510-0345 or email her at auberger.r@gmail.com.