Kim Stemple is an individual teacher who, in 2012, found herself tethered to an IV in a Boston hospital. In the hospital, Kim Stemple received the treatment for one of several diseases. She got diagnosed with conditions such as lupus and lymphoma. Kim had a rare mitochondrial disease that causes progressive mental and physical deterioration. Kim Stemple was typically exuberant, but she was sliding into depression. One of her friends gave her a medal and asked her to ensure that she is aware of the silent signs of lupus that she should not ignore.
Before Kim got sick, she had been a marathon runner. Kim Stemple had got the medal from her racing partner, who had just completed a half marathon in Las Vegas. Her racing partner had hoped that the memento would act as a vicarious pick-me-up. The souvenir that he had given her worked like a charm.
Foundation of Charity
After Kim Stemple hung the medal from her IV pole in the hospital, some patients told her that they wanted the same medals too. This event got Kim Stemple thinking that giving someone a medal is the best way to provide a positive message. Stemple’s charity was born after this event in the hospital. Stemple’s charity, “We Finish Together” started working with this motive. The charity collects medals from strangers, marathon runners, dancers, swimmers, singers, and even spell-bee winners. After this, they donate medals to all sorts of people in need – who are suffering through some disease, some health conditions, or general difficulties in life. In an interview, Kim Stemple said that these are meaningful acts of kindness that don’t cost a cent.
Recipients of these recycled medals include patients in the hospital, residents of homeless shelters, and veterans. The whole process of giving a medal starts by donor writing a personalized note on the ribbon. Kim says that this gesture provides the recipient with a connection kind of a feeling. She further says, when people who are suffering through something in their lives receive a medal, they get to know that someone is there who cares about them.
So, can a single medal really make a difference? Well, Yes! Joan Mussara, a patient of pulmonary fibrosis, shared her experience. She said, “when I opened my package containing a recycled medal and the notes of positive & warm thoughts, I was overwhelmed.” Joan also wrote to Stemple, “when I received my package containing a medal, I was sitting on my couch breathing with the help of an oxygen cannula because my lungs had deteriorated so badly. This medal and the notes of warm thoughts meant so much to me, and I felt like I am not alone.