Kanpai Sushi dishes up fundraiser

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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Roll your own sushi at Kanpai Sushi in Folsom in support of local teen Ashton Fritz who endured a serious spinal injury last July.

While at the Bayside Church Camp in San Diego on July 28, the 17-year-old was having fun in the dorm with some friends. They put a mattress on the floor to do flips. Ashton attempted a back flip onto the mattress, but instead of landing on his feet, he landed straight on his head, causing the spine to "buckle" at the C4 and C5 vertebrae, and twisted the spinal cord.

“What he and his friends were doing was totally normal. They were trying to be safe and they were just having a good time,” said Kevin Fritz, Ashton’s father. “The average kid to get this injury is between the ages of 17 and 25. Boys do crazy stuff.”

The young Vista wrestler is currently working hard getting back mobility in all of his limbs at Craig Hospital in Colorado, which is the No. 1 institute for teens with spinal cord injuries, Kevin said.

“We knew that Craig Hospital was the only option because they have by far the best programs. It’s eight hours a day and they have amazing results,” Kevin said. “It’s like Disneyland for them. It’s a lot of hard work, but he is going to put it in.”

In an early December interview, Kevin said Ashton is paralyzed from the chest down and has limited mobility in his arms.

Kanpai Owner Metha Jriyasretapong has known Ashton and his family for many years and has watched him grow up through the years. When he learned the news, he wanted to help the family in anyway he could – his way is sushi.

Jriyasretapong will be holding a sushi rolling class from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25 at his restaurant, located at 1013 Riley Street. In addition to sushi rolling, there will be sake tasting.

Jriyasretapong has partnered with Gekkeikan Sake for the past eight years and periodically does classes at his restaurant. For this special event in support of Ashton, Jriyasretapong will be donating 60 percent of the proceeds to Ashton’s recovery fund.

“Sushi rolling is unique. It keeps everyone engaged and it’s a lot of fun,” Jriyasretapong said.

Since the news about Ashton broke, the community has rallied and donated thousands of dollars in hopes that money is not a concern during his recovery.

“Metha is doing what many people who come forward have done – help in any way he can. It’s really awesome that the community has come together on so many levels,” said Pasty Mecca, a family friend of the Fritz’s.

Ashton’s rehab is approximately $90,000 per month out of pocket, after the insurance pays their portion. In addition to rehab costs, there will be medical equipment, vehicle modifications and home modifications to accommodate his needs.

So far, the community has raised about $115,000, but they are still nowhere close to the $1 million Ashton’s recovery will cost.

“All of the support feels awesome,” Ashton said. “I want to thank everyone so much and to keep it up for they can for as long as they can.”

To join the sushi rolling event, go to and search ‘Roll Your Own - Sushi Class and Sake Tasting.’

If you are interesting in putting together a fundraiser, contact Mecca at

To donate to help Ashton and his family, go to or go to


Know and Go:

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 25

Where: Kanpai Sushi, 1013 Riley Street

Tickets: $60 per person; $100 per couple

Information: Go to and search ‘Roll Your Own - Sushi Class and Sake Tasting.’