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No Hill for a Climber

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Incredible. Rewarding. Inspiring. Heartwarming. These are just a few of the adjectives I’d use to describe my experience as one of RSM’s 2018 Pursue Your Passion (PYP) winners. My uncle’s diagnosis of ALS was, at a minimum, heartbreaking. The challenges James and Nan Kirkpatrick have encountered this year are more than some experience in a lifetime, and they’re still at the beginning of their journey. It is interesting, though, how God never gives you more than you can handle. Despite the hardship they have endured, Nan and James have gained the love and support from a huge community through RSM, the ALS Association, and friends and family.

After RSM announced that I was chosen a winner, I received countless messages from team members across the firm offering their prayers, support and encouragement. Each of the well wishes and thoughts from the RSM family was so meaningful and comforting to Nan and James. Above all, I was truly touched by the care and support offered from my marketing team; they consistently checked in with me to see how my family was doing. Words cannot express how grateful we are to have this invaluable support.  

The $10,000 awarded to James and Nan has provided them with substantial support and comfort throughout this difficult time. A portion of the funds covered the post-insurance costs of a ventilator (along with a cough assist machine), plus the labor expense of a respiratory specialist that makes house visits to check on James.

In addition, the Pursue Your Passion dollars have contributed to the cost of a computer-assistance device with eye-gaze technology. When his fingers no longer have the capability, this amazing piece of equipment will allow James to operate the computer without a conventional mouse. This will also allow him to “talk” using speech-to-text vocabulary and other pre-sets. James has “test driven” several of these products and we have placed an ordered with one. We do not know yet how much insurance will cover.

Work has begun on James and Nan’s house to make it more accessible, including a walk-in shower and ramps. For these renovations, Nan and James first had to have their foundation repaired. With average costs of $250,000 a year to care for someone with ALS, the financial contribution from RSM provided so much more than simply money.

During my PYP days off, I spent cherished time with my grandmother, Nona. She has an incredible spirit, an overwhelmingly positive attitude and a quick wit. I’m so fortunate to have enjoyed leisurely lunches and outings with her, and she taught me so much about my family history. In early 2019, she will be moving out of Nan and James’ house and into my parents’ house. I look forward to spending even more time with her throughout this transition.

San Antonio’s Walk to Defeat ALS was on October 26, 2018, and the event was a HUGE success. Fueled with support from the community, my family and I rallied together to create our team and rasie funds for the ALS Association. We blew our initial goal of $1,000 and five team members out of the water. By the day of the walk, our team of 15 raised more than $7,500 for the ALS Association of San Antonio! RSM’s Pursue Your Passion program planted a small seed to kick-start the fundraising, and we ended up raising a significant amount of money that will go very far within the ALS Association of San Antonio. I’m super pleased with this accomplishment, and I’m especially proud to work for RSM. We had more than 50 people sporting our RSM shirts at the walk, and we were one of the largest groups at the entire event. This is just the beginning of our fundraising journey, as well, with events such as a garage sale fundraiser planned for 2019.

James named our team “KP’s Climbers” after his love for mountains and the great joy he experienced in climbing them in a 4x4 truck. Our team’s tagline, “No hill for a climber” was an expression made famous by James’ father. This saying, as simple as it might be, is a great source of motivation for the everyday challenges James will face as a victim of this movement-robbing disease. James and Nan have survived a kidney transplant, colon cancer, the loss of loved ones and much more. The diagnosis of ALS is “no hill for a climber” for the Kirkpatricks. This simple saying is a testament to their journey of life together, and can inspire James – or anyone – to keep going, keep fighting and never give up hope.