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Fighting Cancer Together: Living Journeys’ Inspiring Mission on the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast #41

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00:00:00 Pat ONeill
There isn’t an organization like, like Living Journeys in Watertown, NY. We do have blue Ice, your call and the little scent of Christmas trees. But it’s amazing when I talk to people, you know, my brother, my brother John has cancer right now and is living with cancer. But there isn’t a group in Dayton Kettering, OH like living journeys. So I went back, you know?

00:00:29 Pat ONeill
A couple of months ago for 10 days and drove him to his radiation treatments. He’s lost. He doesn’t have sight, so he can’t drive himself to the to the oncology department.

00:00:39 Matt Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuhlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work and serve through my business, Kooler Garage Doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities.

00:00:59 Matt Kuehlhorn
Why? Because community matters. And I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the community fabric that our relationships make up. And collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth and our health.

00:01:19 Matt Kuehlhorn
Good way to start Friday morning, ladies and gentlemen, This is the Good way to start Friday morning, ladies and gentlemen, This is the Cooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Gilhorn. Today we have. Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Gilhorn. Today we have.

00:01:29 Matt Kuehlhorn
Two people, Julie Reed, the executive director, and Pat O’Neill, board member for an amazing organization of living journeys. Julie, Pat, thank you so much for joining. We’ve already had a great time in conversation. How are you 2 doing today?

00:01:45 Pat ONeill

00:01:45 Matt Kuehlhorn
good. Yes, I’m really excited for this conversation. There is so much goodness to to pull out. And I want to start where we always start with the lifestyle podcast.

00:01:57 Matt Kuehlhorn
I’m gonna ask each of you, where did you grow up? So, Julie, where did you grow up?

00:02:02 Julie Reed
I grew up in Brighton, MI.

00:02:04 Matt Kuehlhorn
Brighton, MI Yep, Yes.

00:02:07 Julie Reed
You’re Midwest too, huh?

00:02:08 Matt Kuehlhorn
That’s right. I grew up in Traverse City.

00:02:11 Julie Reed
Oh, I didn’t realize. Michigan. Midwest. Yes. Yes. Yeah. Great state. Yep.

00:02:16 Matt Kuehlhorn
Good state, good state. Pat, how about for you?

00:02:19 Pat ONeill
I grew up in northern New York in Watertown, NY.

00:02:23 Pat ONeill
Where they make the little sunny Christmas trees and the home of blue Oyster fall.

00:02:29 Julie Reed
OK and Brighton wish to get is the home of Aspen extremes.

00:02:33 Pat ONeill
Now it is. We’re not competing here.

00:02:37 Julie Reed
We’re seeing.

00:02:38 Matt Kuehlhorn
I want to, I want to spin a little bit of thread because you know what? I know about you too. When I know about the involvement with living journeys and this mission, I mean, it’s very, very ingrained in who you are. It’s your passion and so.

00:02:53 Matt Kuehlhorn
Can you help the listeners with a little bit of context? So from from Michigan and New York, there are two separate stories here. But how did you end up in Gunnison Valley, kind of the concise story here and what is really driving your effort in with living journeys you first?

00:03:14 Julie Reed
So I discovered the valley while I was bouncing around after high school trying to figure out where out West I wanted to.

00:03:22 Julie Reed
Come out to college and I actually found myself in Flagstaff and was looking at the school there. I had a friend who later on became my husband living in Crested Butte. And me and some friends jumped in the car and drove up in the middle of the night and I was like instantly fell in love and realized Western was down the road and the rest is history.

00:03:48 Matt Kuehlhorn
That’s awesome.

00:03:49 Julie Reed
Yeah, So I came and went to Western Stayed because this community is we’re staying for.

00:03:56 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yeah, it’s all.

00:03:58 Julie Reed

00:03:58 Pat ONeill
Yeah, path I I went to from 1982 to 1986 and one of my best friends in college. We had hiked a ton in the Adirondack Mountains in this four years.

00:04:16 Pat ONeill
And he graduated a year ahead of me. And he was a biology major. And his first, you know, paid gig was at the Rocky Mountain biological lab. And this is a guy who wouldn’t write a handwritten letter to even his mom. And he discovered this valley. And he said, O’Neill, you’d have to come out and spend 1 winner. And that was the winner of 8687. I was intending to.

00:04:46 Pat ONeill
I only spend 1 winter and I this is my 36th winter because once the Gunnison Valley, the people are the beauty, just the community, there’s really no leaving. So I’m here.

00:05:01 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful.

00:05:05 Luke Hylton
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00:05:33 Luke Hylton
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00:05:40 Matt Kuehlhorn
Julie, how long have you been the executive director for Living Journeys?

00:05:48 Julie Reed
For four years now.

00:05:50 Matt Kuehlhorn
Four years And And how did that transpire? What kind of led up and built up to that?

00:05:57 Julie Reed
You know, I was, I was working with some with the Colorado Association and naturopathic doctors doing events and fundraising and.

00:06:07 Julie Reed
When I saw this job opportunity come up, my family was in a good place. My children were in middle school where I felt like I could take on a little more in in my career path. And like I instantly saw the ad and and knew I wanted to be a part of living journeys and a big way. I I was close friends with the first executive Director Melissa Cunningham and I’ve seen firsthand.

00:06:32 Julie Reed
Community members, friends really benefit from our organization and I was really driven by the mission. So it yeah, that’s how how it all came together.

00:06:44 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yeah, and it’s so.

00:06:45 Julie Reed
Grateful to be a part of it.

00:06:47 Matt Kuehlhorn
I love it in, I guess the mission of it where we pointed out. What do we got going on?

00:06:55 Julie Reed
It’s just the lighting. Are you?

00:07:02 Matt Kuehlhorn
This is so good I miss it.

00:07:07 Julie Reed

00:07:07 Matt Kuehlhorn
That’s so beautiful.

00:07:09 Pat ONeill
That’s living journeys.

00:07:11 Matt Kuehlhorn
So beautiful.

00:07:12 Pat ONeill
You get back up when you’ve been knocked out.

00:07:15 Matt Kuehlhorn
That’s right. That’s right. Pat, how long have you said on the board?

00:07:20 Pat ONeill
You tell me.

00:07:21 Julie Reed
3 1/2.

00:07:21 Matt Kuehlhorn
Years 3 1/2 years I.

00:07:24 Pat ONeill
I work for Gunnison RE1J School District will Cowboys go Titans for 28 years. And I loved every day. I taught and it was very, it’s very difficult when I knew that I was going to be wrapping up this career as a public educator. And it was hard. It was very, very hard. And so I thought OKI spoke with my wife, Jordan.

00:07:56 Pat ONeill
And she said, well, it sounds like you need to get involved with a couple of nonprofits in the Valley. And so I chose living journeys because the mission is so urgent as far as the needs of our clients and adaptive as I just work as a volunteer and so.

00:08:20 Pat ONeill
In the last four years, since I retired in June of 2019, living Journeys and adaptive and my work was six Points and KB UT they give meaning to my life. The relationships I have and just living journeys was a perfect fit for kind of who I am and what I believe it. What’s the what’s the mission of living journeys.

00:08:50 Julie Reed
Living Journey is submission is to provide financial assistance, emotional support and enrichment programs to everybody in Gunnison County affected by cancer. And our vision is that nobody in Gunnison County fights cancer alone.

00:09:07 Matt Kuehlhorn
The vision is beautiful and so my next question is to each one of you, and I want to try to dig into is.

00:09:14 Matt Kuehlhorn
What’s unique about your life history? Is it the growing up, Is it life experience? Is it like seeing human spirit and wanting to champion this? Like what is the why? What’s the drive to get involved with living Journeys and really spearheaded? Because we’ll get into some of the nuts and bolts. But I know it’s significantly grown in the last four years and it’s going to continue to do so. And what I see from an observer is just that.

00:09:44 Matt Kuehlhorn
There are two amazing people that are locked in with passion and on fire for this. Why? Where does this come from For each one of you?

00:09:57 Pat ONeill
I can. I can start on this one. I I had a very unique situation, Matt growing up and there were four O’Neill boys and there was John, Tim, Chris and Patrick.

00:10:13 Pat ONeill
You know, Catholic Saints, there you go. And my brother was born in 1954, actually March 22nd, 1954 was cystic fibrosis. And so we were growing up, we were always involved with other cystic fibrosis families. So, so service to others was just to give it. And I remember going when I was 10.

00:10:41 Pat ONeill
And going door to door for this bikeathon that I was going to do with my father from Watertown up to Cape Vincent, which is on the Canadian border. And I just thought that was just a natural thing of what you do when somebody needed help or had a medical situation. That’s what you just did. And my brother try not to get emotional here, but he was given a life expectancy of five.

00:11:12 Pat ONeill
So that would have been 1959, and I’m here to report that on the 22nd, which is just a couple of days ago, my brother John turned 69, one of the oldest living person people on the planet with cystic fibrosis. So that’s where I’ve always been drawn to service. I think when people think of their selves, they’re miserable.

00:11:37 Pat ONeill
I think, wouldn’t we think of helping others were happy, joyous and free. And his Forrest gunk would say, that’s all I have to say about that beautiful man.

00:11:48 Julie Reed
I think for me, my draw was part of what’s really inspiring to be in the Gunnison County is the community supporting community. Really see that with shoveling and just.

00:12:03 Julie Reed
Bringing groceries meals. I mean I I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more supported community with people wanting to help each other and I think living journeys is such an important thread in that and it really inspired me. And again you know we all know somebody that’s been touched by cancer and you know we know the teachers or the clerk at the market, you know and and I I was really aware.

00:12:29 Julie Reed
Of the efforts that this organization was giving to give you know high level support and it just inspired me to want to be a part of it. I I agree. I think being a part of service and and giving back and it just it’s inspiring to me and that was definitely something that I always want to work towards and why I wanted to be a part of this.

00:12:55 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yeah, absolutely beautiful again.

00:12:59 Matt Kuehlhorn
Living Journeys does a lot in the community and we might, we might, we might not recognize all the things that Living Journeys actually does within the community. Certainly one one piece to notice. I mean it’s an organization over 20 years old that’s been around really grounded, established. What are some things that you want to the community to know about that we might not know about?

00:13:30 Julie Reed
So you know as as I came on board and we started to work as a board, work with donors, a big focus within living Journeys was really keeping our mission and clients at the front of our, you know work together and and I think coming together with this fabulous Board members Board of Directors.

00:13:58 Julie Reed
And and kind of getting feedback from donors is we are always evaluating the needs. We’re always ready to pivot with what the community needs with fighting cancer with support. So you know in 2019 there was a growing need for transportation support and reimbursement. So we’ve been growing that program to reimburse for flights.

00:14:24 Julie Reed
Gas hotels where clients have to leave the valley for treatment, or doctors or specialty specialty doctors. And then 2020 hit the pandemic and it felt urgent that we needed to keep our our clients and their caregivers home and safe. So we immediately pivoted into this food program, which started with donors giving money and we wanted to deliver. We wanted to support the restaurants and deliver meals.

00:14:54 Julie Reed
Weekly and then we were we definitely wanted to support Kyleena’s efforts and her farm stand outside of the stash. So we were going and packing 3040 boxes every Saturday and delivering supplies to our clients and and that was such a well received program and we knew it wasn’t sustainable so, so it has now evolved to.

00:15:23 Julie Reed
Three years later, almost. That started mid-april of 2020, so we’re almost at three years. I’m proud to say we’ve never missed a week, which is amazing. And we have Viking Candy Shepherd on the team cooking nutritious, delicious meals that we deliver. We have delivered weekly, they catered to keto, vegan, vegetarian, all the specialties, which is absolutely amazing because we’re they’re not a restaurant.

00:15:50 Julie Reed
And then we teamed up with Mountain Roots and we were we’re partnering with them to deliver boxes, CSA boxes with meat, eggs, produce and I can say in 2022 we delivered over 3000 meals and and the Mountain Roots boxes to our clients fighting cancer. And I think that is and out of all of our programs, I think our clients.

00:16:18 Julie Reed
Are just so thankful to know that somebody’s thinking of them weekly and and not only at times they can’t eat if they’re in treatment but to feed their families is huge. One thing I have noticed and and again just more of the why for living journeys is a lot of friends and neighbors jump in when the diagnosis just happens which is amazing but I I do.

00:16:45 Julie Reed
I do see that cancer is more of a marathon than a Sprint and that does start to fall off and that’s when living journeys is there for the longevity even after somebody passes we we continue to serve for the family emotionally with meals all the all the different programs on to help with end of life stuff so so the food program was another really strong program and then we kind of.

00:17:14 Julie Reed
Reevaluated our enrichment program which was initially like exercise classes and stuff to to, you know, develop strength again. And we still encourage that. But we started to recognize during the pandemic that our clients are going to go to exercise classes. So we started to grant them some private classes with exercise experts.

00:17:39 Julie Reed
We started to actually help buy them some exercise equipment to have at home if that was requested. And then we have, we’ve kind of recognized, you know, sometimes these clients need some clears to come in, you know, to help if if they’re more elderly or or or they don’t have proper caregivers that are in the home with them. So, so, so at times we grant cleaning, at times we grant, at times we grant.

00:18:07 Julie Reed
You know some of the alternative therapies that can help with cancer treatment like acupuncture or massage. So we’ve kind of involved the enrichment program to be just that, like enriching the lives of the person impacted by cancer and their and their families.

00:18:27 Pat ONeill
And with with you saying the word caregiver, you know, a lot of people don’t realize that the caregiver gets hit the hardest.

00:18:38 Pat ONeill
You know, where we’ve actually, and I heard somebody say this and who’s a caregiver is just just give it to me. Just give the cancer to me. And we make sure that people get all the support we need. So we really try to be this grassroots, very human in the trenches, focused on the client. What do you need? Do you need grief support? Do you need?

00:19:07 Pat ONeill
Cleaning Do you need money to go to MD Anderson? Do you need transportation? What is it that you need? And what’s we can identify that with the client because you give the client the caregivers ownership in their journey. And that’s what’s so important. I hope we always say a very humble, extremely approachable organization where it’s like, what do you need?

00:19:36 Pat ONeill
And I even had someone come up to me who lost her father at a pretty young age and her father doesn’t live here. And with, you know, with tears in her eyes, she said, thank you so much. I live here, but living journeys has left allowed me to go to the grief counseling and I don’t know what I do without it. And so a lot of those stories come up with people in in City Market who I don’t know.

00:20:05 Pat ONeill
Walk up and say thank you so much for, for what you’re doing, for my family. And I don’t know these people and you just give some stranger a hug. But you know that maybe better than you know somebody you’ve known here in the Valley for 36 years. Because there’s a once cancer hits, you’re in the club and that’s a that’s a beautiful place to be.

00:20:32 Julie Reed
I think over these years, we really recognize that cancer doesn’t look the same for everybody. And so we have tried to design these programs to offer a variety of support. And with Pat mentioning the caregivers, that’s something that has been new to us in the last 2 1/2 years as we did establish a caregiver support group.

00:20:55 Julie Reed
Conscious caregivers, where we did recognize that it’s hard for a caregiver to get on a Cancer Support group and and talk about their experience with having to take care of a loved one. So we started that program and that is the first Monday it’s offered, its first Monday of the month at 6:00. O’clock. It’s offered in person and Crested Butte. We’re on zoom. All of that information is on our calendar and living But.

00:21:23 Julie Reed
That’s open to all caregivers too. So the caregiver support group is open to all caregivers. It doesn’t have to be cancer focused. And then the the grief and bereavement support group is open for all loss and and I feel really glad that the community takes advantage of that. And again just one of those things, we know it’s a small community, so just we wanted to open that for everybody.

00:21:48 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yeah. Do you think that there’s folks in the community that?

00:21:51 Matt Kuehlhorn
Are not stepping forward asking for help.

00:21:56 Julie Reed
Yes, I I do think that that’s something we’re really trying to work really closely with GVH, with public health. I we are trying to really let our awareness be out there to the public and and my what I learned too is that it is hard for people when you’re in the thick of it to ask for help.

00:22:19 Julie Reed
And so I encourage the community. If you know somebody that’s struggling with cancer, let me know. And if you can share their contact or let a board member know if you can share their contact and we can reach out and say we’re here for you. There’s more than enough for everybody to get support. Because I get that a lot. Oh, I don’t want to take. I don’t want to take from somebody else and and and it and it a lot of times the less they have the less support they want and.

00:22:45 Julie Reed
And then and then once I develop this relationship and and they see how how we can support them, I feel like there’s a massive sense of relief within everybody in the family because again like Pat was mentioning, it affects everybody to the caregivers, the children in the home, It it, it’s a it’s a devastating disease And so we work actively to prevent that, but it does.

00:23:13 Julie Reed
It does seem to be hard sometimes for people to ask for help when they need it.

00:23:17 Pat ONeill
And then and the thing Matt, I think that ours being approachable if there, you know, if there’s anyone who has cancer, it knows of somebody with cancer or someone who is dealing with a loss like the like the woman I just mentioned just living journeys, never sleeps. So just just come to us and we will give you the support.

00:23:39 Pat ONeill
That that you’re looking for. And that’s why I’ve been really proud to be a part, Proud and humbled to be a part of this organization and that, you know, I know it’s hard to ask. My dad died of cancer in in 2010 and my dad didn’t ask anybody for anything. But it, you know there became a certain time where he he asked for the help that he needed.

00:24:09 Pat ONeill
So there isn’t an organization like like Living Journeys in Watertown, NY. We do have Blue Ice, Your Call, and the little Scent of Christmas trees. But it’s amazing when I talk to people. You know my brother, my brother John has cancer right now and is living with cancer, but there isn’t a group in Dayton Kettering, OH like living journeys.

00:24:37 Pat ONeill
So I went back, you know a couple of months ago for 10 days and drove him to his radiation treatments. He’s lost. He doesn’t have sight, so he can’t drive himself to the to the oncology department. So it’s it’s a good thing to have in our back pocket here in the Gunnison Valley.

00:24:57 Julie Reed
And I’m glad Pat brought that up. Oh, sorry. I just that is something else. Another service. We have a really wonderful pool of volunteers.

00:25:05 Julie Reed
That do help drive people to and from treatment and and there are a lot of scenarios where people really need that support. So yeah, that’s another.

00:25:16 Pat ONeill
And you get to ring the bell after you had a treatment, you get to ring that bell and you have to see the people ringing that bell. So we’re, we’re hoping just to have it a beacon of light where people could just keep ringing that bell. Yeah.

00:25:33 Matt Kuehlhorn
It’s amazing. It’s amazing community resource. And I want to emphasize some things for the listeners. You know, whether you are actively living with cancer, either personally or within your family, or you know of somebody reach out to living journeys. And if somebody is resistant to asking for help, I’ve already heard you stated elsewhere, Julie, where you can make it easy to at least check in. Just make sure that people know.

00:26:01 Matt Kuehlhorn
That there is this resource and I think that cancer is one of the unique diseases. I think a lot of diseases will play this, but cancer is something that a lot of us are going to experience closely at some point in our life. Now it might not be personal, it might be within our family, but it’s it’s it’s something that is, I’m going to say common in a lot of ways to have some sort of experience.

00:26:30 Matt Kuehlhorn
And it can be devastating and super heavy. And there is a spectrum of experience with cancer and it knows no borders. It doesn’t care if you’re making gobs of money or whatever socioeconomic scale you’re on. It just it is a human experience. And you know, personally, my wife experienced cancer on her nose, had removed and.

00:26:58 Matt Kuehlhorn
Just on that level, like I would put that on the very like lighter end of the spectrum and it was completely heavy like I can’t, you know my heart goes out to folks that are dealing with cancer on it on a very severe life level and the support that living Journeys brings is just incredible. It’s absolutely amazing and if somebody listening right now.

00:27:24 Matt Kuehlhorn
Is this the first time hearing about living journeys? Do a little bit more research and we’ll give links here in just a moment, but I really want to applaud the two of you. I know there’s a huge team of right being some other staff, other board members and monstrous volunteers, and it absolutely takes the village.

00:27:45 Julie Reed
Yeah, definitely.

00:27:47 Pat ONeill
Yeah, yeah, it’s we’re rolling and you know it like like Julie and I says, you know there’s.

00:27:53 Pat ONeill
There’s real no, really no going back. We, you know, we see ourself as a local grassroots Cancer Support group where our our clients are 1 and but but with the demand, there’s really no going back. So when we’re doing a golf tournament or the summit hike or a a gala or the living journeys athlete core, it’s it’s driven.

00:28:24 Pat ONeill
It’s driven by a good place in that we have more clients, We had more applicants asking for the various either financial support or emotional support. So there’s really no going back at this point and that’s OK with us, yeah.

00:28:45 Julie Reed
And it we’re very proud to share that in our last few years of financial reviews.

00:28:53 Julie Reed
It is shown that 87% of our income goes directly to programs. So when you’re, when you’re supporting living journeys, events, donations or appeals or even if you’re volunteering your time like it goes directly back into our community. And that’s something we’re very proud of and we really work hard to keep our financial, you know, diligence to go to our mission and programs.

00:29:22 Pat ONeill
We were looking at, I mean to say 8080 cents to the dollar, 8787 cents to the dollar goes to our clients. We’re not a top heavy organization. If you can look at the background of the office here. I mean the only thing that Kirsten and Diane and Julie and Margo could do would just be work in the dark and when we have, when we have these.

00:29:51 Pat ONeill
This stoke for Aaron Blanc to be on the Living Journey’s athlete core or or a bunch of new title sponsors or Emma Coburn’s run. We we we want to be authentic, but we also want to have this high stoke because our clients deserve this stoke. You know, we’re we’re in it for them and we have this.

00:30:17 Pat ONeill
Slogan for our Our living journeys athletes corps is that that we win when others win. Because you think of an athlete who goes to let’s just say run 100 mile running race and they do it for their time and to tell their guys at the office that they’re running 100 and they want to win their age category like I want it’s.

00:30:46 Pat ONeill
That’s no bueno, man. And when these people actually do it and they raise $10,000 for somebody or a group that that’s fighting cancer, that puts a meaning into their vet that that makes the run have purpose. And so we always want to be very conscious that we’re doing stuff at living Dirtys that has purpose, that’s meaning that stays humble and gets back to our clients.

00:31:16 Pat ONeill
Yeah, and as Boris Gump says, that’s all I have to say about that.

00:31:20 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yeah, it’s real. It’s real authenticity. What are we excited for? Coming up? Why?

00:31:27 Julie Reed
The 20th Golf tournament. Dos Rios, they’re.

00:31:30 Matt Kuehlhorn
Gonna be a tournament. Love it.

00:31:32 Pat ONeill
That’s our first. That’s our first. We get so excited. We have these committees and you know, our staff and our board. We’re we’re tight and you know we started out.

00:31:45 Pat ONeill
With we’re going to have a a like a gathering at Mark’s house and I was like, wait a second. He lives on the 18th hole of Dos Rios and that’s in Gunnison. Because you know most of our clients or many of our clients are gonna see the majority and we’re not people see oh, that’s a crusty view organization. No, not true. And we’re a valley wide, even marble.

00:32:12 Pat ONeill
And so we’re having a golf tournament on the 20th is our third annual and we’re hitting all of our targets. We’re hitting all of our, we’ve got close to $60,000 in title sponsors. That’s what we used to give out in a year. We have people like you throwing down big cooler and we have Ace Hardware on both ends of the valley and a lot of these businesses wanted to get their workers out playing golf.

00:32:42 Pat ONeill
Seeing what Living Journeys is all about. And so we’re we’re in our third year and we’re becoming this wildly popular golf tournament because people want to be a part of what Living Journeys is throwing down.

00:33:01 Julie Reed
Yes, helping others.

00:33:02 Pat ONeill
Helping others? People want to help others?

00:33:06 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yes, yes, I agree.

00:33:08 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yeah. One of the reasons why Kooler likes to support living Journeys so much is exactly that. Like, we have an alignment of mission. My promise with Kooler is very similar to the vision of living journeys. Like we got you. Nobody’s going to do this alone. We’re in it. And that’s it’s beautiful.

00:33:31 Julie Reed
I do want to give a quick plug to our 23rd annual summit hike and.

00:33:36 Julie Reed
Our 11th of annual half marathon and we’re adding a brand new 10K to that day is going to be July 29th up on the mountain. It’s a very inspiring day so lots of camaraderie and and it just a really beautiful opportunity to come together to honor and remember our our our loved ones impacted by cancer and.

00:34:01 Julie Reed
And support our cause it’s it’s an inspiring event and and something that we’re really excited that we’re continuing that tradition into all these years.

00:34:12 Pat ONeill
I love it beautiful and that in beautiful time in September and I think we try to align it with a cross country event in the valley is the is the Emma Coburn.

00:34:28 Pat ONeill
5K Elk run? Yep.

00:34:30 Julie Reed
That’s September 23rd this year, and that’s like Pat saying just such an inspiring day. And she her generosity to living journeys has been just off the charts. I mean that she she’s a queen.

00:34:47 Pat ONeill
Yeah, she she graduated from. She’s a Titan, yeah. Yes. ECS, where I work for 28 years and she decided as being a.

00:34:57 Pat ONeill
Olympic medalist, 3 Olympics and world champion that she a few years back would have this this elk run where she brings in all of these world cat class runners. She brings in hundreds of runners this excitement and here’s a local kid who she gave big money in the last years to.

00:35:23 Julie Reed
Over 200,000 and.

00:35:26 Julie Reed
Like the last five years.

00:35:27 Pat ONeill
From Eva Coburn, which she takes her notoriety and her hometown hero to give back and she gave it back to living journeys. And the irony of this is that she lost her mother Annie very recently to cancer and and that was a big hit for this community. It was a big hit for living journeys. It was the biggest hit.

00:35:54 Pat ONeill
To the Coburns and to the friends of the Coburns. But in living journeys, we always just try to let them know we’re here and we’re not going anywhere.

00:36:05 Matt Kuehlhorn
Pat, you know, I’ve had some good conversations in the past. I’m curious if I ever shared with you my definition of love.

00:36:14 Pat ONeill
Please share it.

00:36:15 Matt Kuehlhorn
It seems fitting. And again, like living journeys and you know, cancer, there’s there’s a lot of heaviness that can come with.

00:36:24 Matt Kuehlhorn
This style of conversation, and I learned this from Doctor D Martini at one point and he was explaining how life is a wave, it’s a it’s a cycle and love is like, you know, I first recognized this when my now 13 year old daughter was two and she got up on the stage for a dance recital for the first time. And you know, as a new dad, I’m like just.

00:36:54 Matt Kuehlhorn
Falling right. Like I’m I’m happy. I’m sad like everything in the moment. I’m recognizing full presence. It’s the challenge of raising a little baby and and and late nights and then seeing her as since like expressed on the stage. It is just like oh man, it’s this collapse of the peak and the dip into this present moment of love and I think that you know for.

00:37:24 Matt Kuehlhorn
For to share that right now it just hits because you know, I can feel empathic for folks that have experienced loss. I can feel empathic for people going through some of this challenge. And the sense of hope that living Journeys brings like ties it all in together to this mix of just pure love and it’s it’s this moment of presence. It’s this moment of of making sure nobody does this alone. There is tons of support.

00:37:54 Matt Kuehlhorn
And it’s just a huge shout out to the players and you know, the network in our community. I can’t have a size the beauty enough. It’s gorgeous.

00:38:05 Pat ONeill
Yeah, it’s, it’s. And it’s also honoring that person’s journey, yes. And staying very, very humble. But we feel a ton of love, you know? And there’s actually.

00:38:19 Pat ONeill
Deep love in in in having cancer itself. I was driving my brother to his oncology appointment and I said, you know we’re, you know New York Irish brothers and this is somewhat poignant. And I turned to John and I said, hey, do you want to give the cancer to me? And he goes, Nope it’s all mine. And I think he was trying to say you don’t realize that it’s.

00:38:49 Pat ONeill
There’s beauty in the fight. There’s beauty in the people I’ve met. There’s beauty in the way I look at life now. There’s beauty because when you have get cancer it’s a great leveler. But all those things that we thought were important, they we get renewed and I think we Julie, we humbly get to be a part of that just through the the courage of our clients.

00:39:18 Pat ONeill
As it’s it, it levels us. And I always say that I’ve got Cadillac problems, You know, how am I going to pay for college or how am I going to get in the singles line and the ski area where it’s all it all goes back to just appreciating this exact moment right here right now. And that’s not to be melodramatic or cliche, it’s to say.

00:39:45 Pat ONeill
We need to, we need to honor and and and value this very moment. Yeah. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

00:39:54 Julie Reed
Yeah just to just to add I can say what an honor and inspiration it has been when people do share their cancer journeys and and and we can work together and again helping them not only survive but thrive during cancer and.

00:40:15 Julie Reed
Just yeah just really putting into perspective the single mother you know fighting breast cancer. The parents you know driving their their child to Denver you know for years with fighting brain cancer. The elderly couple that just you know are are there together to care give and to provide love during their time and and and being there when somebody does lose their battle and.

00:40:45 Julie Reed
I mean just there’s so many stories and so many families and but it is such an inspiration and and I am so honored to be able to work and be a part of providing that beacon of light for them while they’re on their cancer journey.

00:41:02 Pat ONeill
And the wild thing, Matt, is what we we typically get to see in gatherings is there’s nothing better than when one person with cancer gets to speak.

00:41:13 Pat ONeill
With to another person with cancer, because they get it they speak one another’s language and and many times people maybe don’t really say the right things and but when you can get clients together and they can especially if they have the same type of cancer.

00:41:38 Pat ONeill
They could say, Oh my gosh, that side effect from that medicine, holy smokes. But to see them together talking that shared language, I mean that’s that’s where the hope comes in and it’s like, let’s keep doing it and we just get to be kind of humble witnesses of what’s already amazing and it’s our clients.

00:42:05 Matt Kuehlhorn
So how can listeners.

00:42:08 Matt Kuehlhorn
Reach out and get involved. Whether they’re seeking services or want to write a check, do write a check or want to volunteer. How do we How do we track what living journeys is doing?

00:42:22 Julie Reed
So obviously your website is a great resource. provides all of our updated program information, events, ways to volunteer anybody’s.

00:42:38 Julie Reed
Welcome to e-mail Me Director at Living journeys dot ORG if there’s any interest in furthering this conversation or learning any more details on what we’re doing or ways to get involved. Volunteers are so welcomed and valued in this organization and there’s always the phone 970-349-2777, call to the office anytime and we’re here.

00:43:04 Pat ONeill
Awesome. There’s also what I find

00:43:07 Julie Reed
social media.

00:43:08 Pat ONeill
Yeah, social media, the interwebs. Yeah, yes. What I find is that people who like to give, a lot of times, they have their own personal interests. So we have people who what feels right to them is to call Julie and say with your P.O. Box, I wanna cut the check. It sounds like an amazing organization.

00:43:31 Pat ONeill
But we have different ways. We about, you know, the summit hike, we have people who who just gravitate towards endurance sports and they want to give to one of our athletes. You know, we’ve got a boxer this year, Matt, who’s who’s going to be fighting. It’s a friend of the Coburn family, Kirk Nicholas.

00:43:57 Pat ONeill
And he’s going to be boxing in the Mission ballroom on the the 14th of June. And people are like, holy cow, I want to, I want to support this boxer or their golfer and they want to be a title sponsor because they get a free team. We’re starting to form with GVH. We just did a screening night the other night with a presentation by Eric Larson, who’s the polar explorer. Mind bending.

00:44:26 Pat ONeill
Just small little trip to the North Pole and GVH was there for us and they can get somebody who gets a recent a recent diagnosis with cancer and they could say go to living journeys.

00:44:43 Julie Reed
I’m glad Pat mentioned that. You know you asked some of the growing pieces of living journeys. That is something we established in 2022 is putting.

00:44:55 Julie Reed
Putting more effort and awareness into the screening and prevention piece of cancer, we’re definitely recognizing the quicker people take those screenings seriously and kind of empower themselves in their health. Cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence if if it’s caught early and so we we are starting to work with GB H to share all the local resources and getting their screenings prevention and.

00:45:24 Julie Reed
It’s Colonoscopy Awareness: Rectal Awareness Month this month and the one piece I really want to push out that is in 2020 it is now recommended to get your colonoscopy at 45. That’s something that we we really want to encourage the community to take the screening seriously, take advantage of having a fabulous resource in Gunnison County, which is Gunnison Valley Health. It’s.

00:45:52 Julie Reed
You know their team down there is is top line and they it’s it’s outstanding the experiences I’ve had down there and yeah so we so we are we are kind of pivoting into some prevention and screening at this point and then trying to provide some patient comfort in the oncology.

00:46:14 Julie Reed
And the oncology wing and and last year we were fortunate enough to help buy or to buy a blanket warmer piece of equipment for them to have right in oncology. So the nurses weren’t having to run to other other pieces of the hospital, other parts of the hospital.

00:46:30 Julie Reed
To bring warm blankets to our community fighting cancer. So that’s something we’re still kind of developing and but we’re really proud that in the first year we were able to buy that piece of equipment and work on these awareness and screening campaigns. It will just continue to develop.

00:46:45 Pat ONeill
That and screening. Screening Matt is massive because my brother John, I was telling him about what we’re doing with the screening and he said Pat let him know it’s at 45.

00:46:59 Pat ONeill
And the cleanse is not that bad, and it’s good and and and, and if if you screen 20 and you caught one person with polyps that were heading towards colon cancer, you’ve done something huge. You caught one of those 20 and he’s had colon cancer twice.

00:47:21 Julie Reed
Know. So I turned 45 this year and I listened to the experts. I I learned from the doctors that this is my age now to get the colonoscopy and I they removed 3 polyps and I and they were fine. But I can’t help but wonder what that could have developed into if I would have waited for five years into my 50s. So I think at this point we need to really. Yeah not wait for an issue to take our.

00:47:50 Julie Reed
Screenings serious like these experts are are setting this out into the public because they’re seeing a lower age range getting colon cancer. So you know and there’s two expert doctors down at GB H right now. They. Yeah. So yeah, it’s just, yeah, I guess in 2020 is when they change the age and they think some of that language got lost in COVID.

00:48:18 Julie Reed
So now get your screenings. It’s it’s worth it. It makes all the difference. And if you find out you have cancer, contact Living Journeys, We’re here.

00:48:26 Matt Kuehlhorn
All right everybody. Go get screened. I heard that as well. I’ll line up mine this year for sure as we as we close out this conversation with both of you, you will include website and and social media links into the show notes. So for listeners listening, go check out Living Journeys, get involved.

00:48:47 Matt Kuehlhorn
And just open it up. Final thoughts, closing words.

00:48:55 Julie Reed
I will just start with really emphasizing we take our vision very seriously. No one in Gunnison County fights cancer alone. Please reach out if you need help or if you know of a community that member that is impacted by cancer and and we can support them.

00:49:14 Julie Reed
It does make a difference to fight cancer with support for the family and the individual.

00:49:21 Pat ONeill
Love it. I well man you and I have become really good friends and part of that was you know you you really stepped up and wanted to be this part of your of Kooler’s mission is to we win when others win as well and we.

00:49:43 Pat ONeill
We became connected not just through boxing but through living journeys, and that’s a connection. And I think living journeys is about deep, meaningful connections with other people. And if we keep the clients at the forefront of our mission, we cannot lose. We could only win.

00:50:10 Pat ONeill
And it’s, it’s very humbling to be a part of the board because the awesomeness of cancer and the bigness of what’s happening, it really keeps you right size. It really keeps you in check. It keeps your ego in check and say, am I being a good team player so that our clients benefit the most? Am I doing outreach to bring people in?

00:50:41 Pat ONeill
In in a manner that is back to our clients and back to our mission. And for Julie and I, we were friends before and I was really I’m really good friends with her husband Billy. But we’re like brother and sister now because we have this, this common connection which is our clients. What do our clients need? So our our petty issues fall aside.

00:51:10 Pat ONeill
And we have this, this relationship that’s it’s really unique. I’m not leaving the board. They’re going to have to drag me off, you know, like they had to drag me out of the Crested View Community School. But I just feel honored just to be with you 3 right now, because as long as we keep our vision on our clients, we cannot and will not fail.

00:51:35 Julie Reed
And I do think the whole board is very aligned in that.

00:51:39 Julie Reed
Sponsors, donors, everyone that does step into living journeys I think has that same mission and providing support and and realizing there’s no need to do it alone.

00:51:53 Matt Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah. Gillian, Pat, thank you so much for your passion, your motivation, inspiration for showing up today. I really appreciate what you do and your team does through living journeys, and I really appreciate our conversation today.

00:52:09 Julie Reed
Thank you so much.

00:52:11 Pat ONeill
So much. We’ll hit the bag soon and we’ll talk golf tournament.

00:52:17 Julie Reed
And I got to provide your first looper.

00:52:20 Pat ONeill
Please keep that blooper. This is what living Germany is, is how can we have so much fun and give hope and do the best we can for our class? Because our clients deserve it, Yeah. Yeah.

00:52:35 Julie Reed
Thank you for all you do for our community.

00:52:38 Julie Reed
Outside of even living journeys, I know that you’re just such a leader and trying to provide all of this information on what wonderful nonprofits and business owners and community members are doing. It’s it’s been great watching your podcasts and.

00:52:52 Matt Kuehlhorn
Very. I love that. I love that. Yep. It’s all about the connections. That’s what keeps us moving.

00:52:57 Julie Reed
Connection is working.

00:52:58 Matt Kuehlhorn
Thank you. We’ll talk to you soon. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. We count on your subscriptions, your likes, your shares.

00:53:08 Matt Kuehlhorn
And I encourage you to do that now. If you’re watching on YouTube, go ahead and subscribe. Lower right hand button. If you’re on audio, download this, share it, And we look forward to having you on the next one.