My name is Kim Constantinesco and here is how I RISE. I'm the Director of Content for a startup that helps people manage their chronic health conditions. I enjoy creating content that empowers people as they transform their health and redefine their limits. I'm also a children's author who, in pre-COVID times, would visit schools, bookstores, and hospitals. My tale, Solar the Polar, is about a snowboarding polar bear and skier girl who is missing her legs below the knee. I love being able to show young kids what's possible when you focus on what you have rather than on what's missing.
When not sitting behind a keyboard, I'm a distance runner and big mountain snowboarder. In fact, Solar the Polar was inspired by my own near life-altering snowboarding accident when a botched backflip led to neck surgery, complete with a cadaver bone, metal plate and screws. Thankfully, I made a full recovery, but I realize I could have easily lost my ability to walk. So, I wanted to make one of the characters in the book an adaptive athlete.
I guess you could say that I do my best to live the hell out of life, but how I RISE is I try to help others do the same. I recently donated my kidney to a stranger. I later learned that it went to Jamal Shuriah, a Broadway performer, dancer and model who had been on the transplant list for four years. Unfortunately, after a very rare series of events, the kidney clotted and died four days after transplant. So, he's still looking for a kidney to save his life. Now I'm working with his friends to help him find one.
When people ask me why I did it, the simple answer is, because I could. I was healthy enough to donate and I could give someone a second chance at life. A second chance to live fully. It just made sense to me. It didn't matter whether I knew the person or not. I'm hoping there's someone else out there who sees living organ donation the same way because Jamal and so many others like him desperately need kidneys. If you'd like to learn more about Jamal's story and living kidney donation, visit www.findjamalakidney.com.
I have no regrets in doing this, and I truly believe Jamal will get a kidney. I had my surgery on Dec. 16, and I feel great physically. Actually, I already ran my first mile. Now I'm working on healing emotionally. No different than going to see an MD if you slice your finger open. Our wounds, physical and emotional, all deserve attention. So, I'm working with a therapist to help me process this experience. I didn't drink coffee at all until two years ago when I moved from Denver to NYC. I credit caffeine for helping me adjust to this high-energy city. RISE became my go-to rather conveniently. My old company had it on tap, and I was hooked from the start. One of the reasons I didn't drink coffee prior to the age of 35 is I didn't like the taste. But, RISE was so smooth, frothy and rich in flavor that there was no turning back. Add the crisp sound of a can opening and the fuel it gives me as a writer and, well, it's swoon-worthy.
How did you end up doing what you do?
[Kidney donation wise] Covid or no Covid, I knew people still needed kidneys. So, I thought donating at a time when other non-directed donations might be down was ideal in terms of giving someone some hope during a year when so much hope and freedom was striped away.
[Career wise] I have a masters degree in health psychology, but I learned rather quickly that I loved writing patient notes after therapy sessions more than actually sitting across the room from someone. That's when I knew I wanted to put my time and energy into writing. I went into sports journalism and covered the Denver Broncos for a number of years before leaning back into my educational background and having a strong desire to impact people's health at the population level. So, I left the world of sports journalism, moved to NYC, and started working in digital therapeutics because I see how botched traditional healthcare is. I love being able to merge behavioral science with content creation and storytelling to help people realize their own power and potential outside of the healthcare system.
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of my ability to adapt to the world around me. I believe it's important to not stay a course just because you're on it. It's cliche, but our time here is short and the world is full of possibilities. There's never really a "right" time. There's just time and what you choose to do with it. I think that gives me permission to live big, take risks, and embrace life's adventures in whatever form they come.