Why I Founded Kristi’s Klimbers Foundation, a “no overhead” 501c3 non profit supporting cancer patients.
It is common for people who have survived a serious illness to say that experience has changed their outlook on life, particularly if they thought they may have lost their life through that illness.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and am now cancer free. That experience and the ongoing uncertainty of my medical future, altered my thought process and my priorities including my career.
I decided to leave my corporate life as an executive in the employer benefits industry four years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, and five years prior to my ideal retirement date. I had a strong desire to do something that helped those less fortunate.
Like many women who are juggling full time careers and raising children, I skipped a few yearly mammograms. And had I been more diligent about getting yearly mammograms, my cancer might have been caught earlier and I could have avoided undergoing two surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy. I realized my prognosis could have been much worse, and vowed to “pay it forward” and become and advocate for early detection and support others in their cancer journey
I formed “Kristi’s Klimbers Foundation”, a 501c3 non profit dedicated to providing support to cancer patients and others in need. Our foundation provides free mammograms, referral to low cost resources, and recovery wear to cancer patients. None of our officers or board members receive a salary and nearly 100% of our proceeds go to cancer patients, survivors and other vulnerable populations in need. Our only overhead is a $15 monthly bank fee which I pay for.
Having a “no overhead” not for profit was extremely important to me. I have raised money for numerous large cancer foundations in the past but never knew if the money I raised was going to cancer patients or towards the salary of a highly paid Executive Director.
Serving as President of Kristi’s Klimbers board of directors takes a couple hours a week, and I still have time to focus on my other passions including hiking, working at a not for profit that provides support for foster children, and working on my golf swing.
I have also learned to appreciate the life lessons having cancer has taught me including having a greater sense of support and compassion for others, and a greater appreciation for the simpler things in life.