My site is usually a space where I share my own personal journey in hopes to inspire, motivate and encourage others but in a recent interview I did for an online publication, I was asked about the people in my life that inspire me. I realized that my list was in fact quite long, which is a blessing and then realized that perhaps I should start helping others share their stories.
Kristen Kuzemko is an amazing spirit I met through Nike Canada when I began training for the San Francisco Half Marathon. A Product Expert for the running category she was an integral part of my race preparation educating me on everything from the appropriate types of shoes for my gait and distances, how to stay cool in heat during 26.2 km’s and most importantly how to tackle the ridiculously steep hills of the Golden Gate city. This past summer we bonded over another sport, cycling. During one of our rides Kris chatted to me about all her volunteer work which I had gotten glimpses of on social media over the years but had not made the connection that majority, if not all, the causes she was connected to had to do with Cancer. Turns out, over the course of 15 years, Kuzemko’s immediately family had been faced with 7 different diagnosis of this horrible disease. “The summer I start running, I instantly knew I wanted to turn my passion into a way to help others. Since then I have volunteered weekly at at Sick Kids Hospital on the Oncology floor. This past summer I spent a week up north at Camp Ooch, a camp for kids who have been affected by Cancer and have challenged myself physically by participating in the NYC marathon, SportingLife 10k, The Sears Great Canadian Run, as well as riding my bike across Canada in 2012 all in hopes of making a bit of difference.”
Fast forward three years and Kristen is back on two wheels, with some other very brave and admirable Canadians to pedal across our beautiful country. With her job traveling across North America for Nike about 80% of the year, she had limited time in the saddle to train for this ridiculously long ride but Kristen knew that her close connection to the disease would give her the strength she needs to be one of the strongest riders in the peloton. I read up on childhood cancer in Canada after reading Kristen’s bio and cried sadly way too late for me to participate in this courageous journey. The causes of childhood cancer is generally unknown and takes hold of roughly 10,000 kiddies a year. Today, about 80% of childhood cancer patients become long term survivors and majority of them are considered cured. Sadly though, around 60% of those have long term impact to their health due to their cancer treatments. The Sears National Kids Cancer Ride will fund research and other programs to help improve the lives of children living with this disease.
Kristen loves to quote Ghandi and say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – which she says is exactly what she’s doing and kindly reminds us that it only takes one person to inspire!
My swoosh sister needs to raise $25,000 and 100% of these proceeds will be going towards funding research at the 17 paediatric facilities in every single province in Canada. Reaching this goal will not become possible without the help of others in our community. This year’s SNKCR is already in progress, with the ride beginning in White Rock, British Columbia and ending in Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 26th. There is still time to help give to this amazing cause. Click here to learn more about Kristen’s story and to make a personal donation. She is also documenting and video blogging the journey on KristensRide.Tumblr.com. For more information on the foundation head to BeyondKidsCancer.com. Interested in participating in this ride next year? I will admit, I am…you can find more information on how you can make a difference on two wheels at SearsNationalKidsCancerRide.com
Thank you Kris for being such an amazing inspiration to me and everyone around you. Cannot wait to toast you at the end of your ride! xo