“ Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to tell people how they can help you best. A lot of people don’t know what to do when someone they love is diagnosed with cancer – just tell them.
Julie Kinamore is the rollerblading mAss Kicker! She’s the manager of the First Descents, Tributaries. We met her at a conference a few years ago and have managed to stay in touch. She started out in Dayton, Ohio and spent 17 months in Hawaii as a Marine Naturalist with the Pacific Whale Foundation. She then went to Alaska to work as a zip line guide before starting grad school at Southern Illinois for her MS in Kinesiology. From there she move to Denver and landed a job at First Descents. Witnessing the growth of First Descents over the past few years has been incredible! We were very fortunate to catch up with Julie and ask her a few questions.
mK: Thanks for doing this Julie! What is your relationship to tumors/cancer:
JK: Before joining the team at First Descents, I didn’t have a strong personal connection to cancer, thankfully. Now, I’m going on three years at FD and so many of my friends are fighting a constant battle. It’s incredibly humbling and I’m so grateful to my FD family for providing me with so many memories, laughs, and a deeper perspective on life.
mK: How did you get involved with First Descents? What do you do?
JK: In 2011 I started as a programs coordinator. In 2013 I transitioned into a managerial role with FDtributaries. FDtributaries is our alumni and community engagement initiative. I’m striving to bring the FD experience to YAs year-round. It’s going to be an amazing avenue for our community to continue ‘Out Living It’ and connect with other YAs in their local community who share a similar spirit.
mK: What is your nickname? What is the story behind it?
JK: Fruit Boots. On my first day at FD Brad came into the office and asked me what I did for fun. (I grew up in the Midwest playing traditional sports. To say the incredible talents of my coworkers and the general thrill-seeking culture of Colorado was intimidating would be an understatement.) I replied that I liked to rollerblade around Wash Park. Brad looked at me in bewilderment and I’m pretty sure he questioned why I was hired. Then he laughed, named me Fruit Boots, and walked into his office. I still rollerblade all the time! One of the best parts about FD is you’ll be 100% embraced for who you are.
mK: That Brad Ludden guy is weird! (Btw, we didn’t get the memo that rollerblading was still cool!) What motivates you?
JK: Every single person I’ve met through FD: participants, coworkers, outfitters, volunteers, donors, etc. There’s way too many to name – Big Toe, Johnny, Mary Poppins, Hot Mama, Stretchy, Whip, Squirrel, Chopper, Podo, X, Scooter, Sunny, Hawk, Mallow, Spike and Tuggy – but our participants have changed my life. It’s an incredible network of people and I want to do my best to build a community that supports one another and stays connected through rad shared experiences. Life is precious and incredibly fragile – we’ve got to take advantage of the time we have.
mK: Who is your personal hero or are your heroes?
JK: Anyone who follows his or her own path; those who never give up on the dream of what they want their life to look like.
mK: So, what makes you laugh, cry, angry?
JK: Laugh – Team Flash and Uncle P make me laugh on a daily basis in the office – we have a really goofy Programs Team. I also laughed for 10 days straight on FDX Bali – when you have lead staff like Spoonberg performing theatrical reading of “50 Shades of Grey”, how can you not? My sister and I also have a pretty strange sense of humor that we only share with each other.
Cry – I love my Grandma and Grandpa Walsh more than anything. Watching them struggle at the end of their lives makes me cry. But it also reminds me that life is like a piggy bank; at the end of our lives we draw on the memories we’ve accumulated over our lifetime. I’m so happy they have an incredible bank of experiences to look back on.
Angry – Anyone with a sense of entitlement.
mK: Everyone is entitled to rollerblade where and when they want… What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
JK: Interesting…. Hmmm….. I’ve traveled and moved to several different places by myself. Being alone in a foreign environment forces you out of your comfort zone and provides really unique experiences. Every person you meet – no matter how brief or long the encounter – teaches you something.
mK: Cool. Based on what you’ve observed, what is the toughest challenge a survivor faces?
JK: It’s hard for me to answer this because I’m not a cancer survivor. Life is hard and cancer makes it infinitely harder. I believe challenge is unique to each survivor. We all face challenges and I don’t believe one person’s “hard” is harder than another; it could be financial debt after treatment, the end of a relationship and loneliness, physical limitations, etc. Every person’s challenge is valid.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
JK: Some people may feel guilty but I thoroughly enjoy fried food and reality tv.
mK: Hee hee… If you could be famous for anything of your choice, what would it be?
mK: What are you up to now?
JK: Right now, at this very moment? I’m catching up on emails after a long and wonderful weekend up at the First Descents Ball in Beaver Creek – by far one of my favorite weekends of the year.
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
JK: Take advantage of the resources available to you! Organizations like Livestrong, mAssKickers, Stupid Cancer and Cancer 101 have built amazing libraries of navigation tools, current research and resources. From there, focus on the resources most applicable to you. Johnny Imerman at Imerman Angels could hook you up with a mentor angel, financial support is available through organizations like Rise Above It, Fertile Action provides guidance and assistance with fertility issues, or work environment counseling through Cancer and Careers. Of course, everyone should come kayaking, climbing, or surfing with First Descents. Our programs are free and it’s an incredible week with 14 other rad YA cancer fighters in beautiful locations around the country.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help or to tell people how they can help you best. A lot of people don’t know what to do when someone they love is diagnosed with cancer – just tell them. Some people are amazing listeners and can provide a lot of emotional support. Others are doers – have them rake your leaves, run errands, take your dog to the groomers, etc. People will be looking for ways to help, sometimes they just don’t know how.
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
JK: In one day I watched Mighty Ducks 7 times in a row. (I was 10!)
mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
JK: Adventure on.
Julie Kinamore: president of the Emilio Estavez/ Might Ducks fan club, professional surfer wanna-be, fried food connoisseur, reality TV Junkie, experienced young adult survivor advocate, and all-around cool person! Check out First Descents if you can! We highly suggest participating in one of their programs! Thanks Julie!