Updated: Dec 31, 2019
If you have not heard of this woman by now (she was featured in a recent article on Runners World), you need to. I had the opportunity to hang out with her and I have to say she makes me want to try and be a better person.
Kim was a special education teacher and cross country coach at a school in Boston, loved running triathlons and marathons (as we always find ourselves chatting about the next one on the schedule), but what she mentioned is that when she lived in Boston, she realized that running in these races just wasn’t fun anymore.
Well in 2009 everything changed. She was diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease and her doctors didn’t think she’d live to the age she is now. Thereafter, she moved to DC to seek specialized treatment and while down here, Kim decided to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon. Her doctor advised her not to and even said it could potentially kill her. But in true determined Kim fashion, she did it anyways with a big smile on her face. This race was in honor of her husband Jim, a former Marine, and gave him her medal.
"We Finish Together" is an organization that donates race medals to those who need it. They are the real story. The veteran, sick patient or someone like me who lost everything in a house fire. She brightens up these people's lives by providing them with this beacon of hope.
But I am not here to talk about how badass this woman is, I am here to tell you about her incredible foundation “We Finish Together”. After she was diagnosed, she was signed up to run the Rock n Roll race in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, due to her treatments, she could not so a friend who ran, gave Kim her medal. This is how the idea began.
“We Finish Together” is an organization that donates race medals to those who need it. They are the real story. The veteran, sick patient or someone like me who lost everything in a house fire. She brightens up these people’s lives by providing them with this beacon of hope.
While chatting with her, I told her my story about the house fire and how the only medal I was not able to get replaced was from my first ever half marathon. The reason? Well, it doesn't exist anymore. The Suntrust Nations Marathon was discontinued and became a Rock N Roll race, with a whole new medal. But what was wonderful is that her husband ran that race back in 2009 and hand delivered that medal to me. That moment brought tears to my eyes and made me so happy to see it in my hand. It could have gone to someone who needed it more, but that is just what the organization is about. The medals are provided to those who need it. As a result of what she does, Kim has had so many medals sent to her, with little notes and quotes on the back and they get sent right back out to those in need.
Kim Stemple is a remarkable woman, runner and fighting the battle of her life. But what makes her such an amazing person is that she is making an impact on the running community, her local community and the lives of those who are going through struggles in life. All the while living life to the fullest. I still see her out and about running through DC, working out with the NP crowd and her awesomely adorable posts on facebook including drawing in coloring books while getting treatment. But what I admire about her is she won’t let what she is going through stop her. As she said it best “we are all going to die eventually, so why not die doing what you love” and for her it is running. She is the epitome of what everyone going through tough times should try and amount to. To not let your circumstance bring you down, to live life now and to keep fighting like hell.
So to those runners and triathletes out there, I issue you a challenge. It's the holiday season and there are so many people in need. We all have tons of medals so why not donate one to We Finish Together and put a smile on the face of a child fighting leukemia or a veteran seeking treatment for PTSD. Follow We Finish Together on facebook and shoot Kim a message that you want to participate. I am and so should you!