Fierce gratitude

Kimberly looking spry after climbing the "Rocky" steps for 24 hours straight for a total of 39.75 miles in the 2021 PHL24! photo: Bryan Lathrop

If ever there was an individual who embodied gratitude—not some passive, going-through-the-motions gratitude, but active, joie de vivre, all caps GRATITUDE—it would be Kimberly S. Reed. Reed exudes a visceral, genuine, energetic vibe which may stem from her courageous victory over stage IV breast cancer. But it seems likely that she would share such spirited thankfulness even if she'd never had this insidious illness. Reed, who sits on Legacy of Hope’s Board of Directors, will be joining their sponsored athletes this Sunday, March 27th, for the 2022 Love Run. She makes sure to clarify "I’m walking, power walking, the 7.6 mile option, because I know my lane. But I’ll be cheering on my runners!"

Whether she walks or runs, and regardless of the distance, Reed is tireless in her efforts to help "survivors, thrivers, families and caregivers that are walking to and through this disease." The loss of her mother to leukemia, after a 45 day battle in the hospital was a catalyst in this regard. "My mother was not only an inspiration, but an example of resilience, unyielding faith, an example of an incredible woman and soul; if I was one-quarter of the woman she was I would be so extraordinary. God loved me enough to have this woman go through what I was about to go through. Almost ten years ago, I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer after a PET scan showed that it had metastasized to my liver, shortly after I'd started chemotherapy.”

“For me the biggest challenge [of breast cancer] was being numb to everything I was going through because I was still healing from the loss of my mother. So I was really blessed, with God’s grace, because I was never sick; I was tired here and there from the chemo. But that’s it. I had three surgeries, a lumpectomy, and radiation. My oncologist recently said to me ‘Kim, you are probably at the lowest probability for recurrence, percentage wise. You did the work, Kim, continue to live life to the fullest.’ I thank God for that.”

Reed doesn’t mince words when it comes to advice for anyone who recently received a cancer diagnosis. “1) do not get on the internet! Let your guidance come from your doctor only. 2) Any toxic or negative people, or people who bring drama in your life…you have to wave goodbye to them. 3) You have to adopt a mindset of winning, or you won’t! But the biggest point in all this is believe in your faith, trust your faith.”

Gratitude is the rocket fuel to our resilience.

– Kimberly S. Reed

Reed connected with Legacy of Hope because, when, in her role as vice-chair of the leadership council at the American Cancer Society, they told her about what Mike Rowe was doing with Legacy of Hope. She signed up and started doing the grocery deliveries; "fell in love with the organization, and here I am on the Board of Directors working with all of you.” She is actively involved, doing the Love Run and back to back PHL24s—logging an impressive 39.75 miles of stair climbing at the 2021 PHL24.

Reed credits "great friends, and that compassionate and amazing people that I surround myself with" as being "healing for the soul." She stresses the importance "of supporting causes like Legacy of Hope, like The American Cancer Society, Philadelphia Hope Lodge —where people who are going through this disease can stay for free, can get support...mental support, you need places where you can go... because sometimes people’s resources are depleted through the treatments, medicines, etc.; and this is why I’m so in love with Legacy of Hope, because all of the extraordinary work that we do, led by two of the best souls that I know: Mike Rowe and my girl Gina Mancuso-Bryant. I’m forever Legacy of Hope."

Alpha Kappa Alpha in the house at 2020's PHL24. photo: Bryan Lathrop

Reed's impressive efforts aren't geared solely toward helping people with cancer. Through her company, the Reed Development Group she focuses on the greater good by advocating for diversity "trying to make an impact on the world through diversity…we work with global companies; we have to make them better." And then there is Reed's not so small role as author of the best selling book “Optimists Always Win,” which she says she wrote "to help other people that are going through life’s valley’s and triumphs...100% of the book's proceeds go to two cancer charities. The more books we sell, the more we bless other people through these charities. My speaking is a segment of that work. I love seeing people’s minds transformed and coming to their aha! moments in their lives. That drives me.”

Reed also takes pride in representing the Phi Beta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA). “I also represent The Links, Inc., one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of accomplished, dedicated African American Women who are active in their communities and members of AKA with over 300, 000 members globally.”

My oncologist recently said to me ‘Kim, you are probably at the lowest probability for recurrence, percentage-wise. You did the work, Kim. Continue to live life to the fullest.’ I thank God for that.

Reed carried "Baby" the thoughtfully named, 35lb log up the Art Museum steps more than a few times at the 2021 PHL24 photo: Bryan Lathrop

Reed says she’s “trying to walk best in the legacies of my mother, and my two grandmothers, who have taught me levels of strength, endurance, encouragement and kindness, and love that I could not have imagined. I cannot forget my hero, my dad, who is still here with me…and my mother knew when she left this earth that my dad and I would take care of each other.” There is no doubt that Reed will be bringing this energy to Sunday's Love Run and sharing it with everyone around her.

You can support Kimberly by donating at her Love Run fundraising page; if you're already registered to run the Love Run, you can get your registration fee refunded if you raise $250 for Legacy of Hope. It's late, but there's still time, just go to PhillyRunsFree to set up your fundraising page; then get those donations.

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