Turning Despair Into Hope: The Full Interview

Did you catch the summary about Frank & Jan Kinion’s story, Turning Despair into Hope, in our annual Report to Our Community? Here’s our full interview with Frank Kinion.

In 2005, Frank & Jan Kinion began to make & sell cancer awareness bracelets as a way to raise funds and fight cancer in our community. They exceeded their goal by 967%.

When did you start making bracelets?
It was in December of 2005 that we started project.

Why did you start making the bracelets?
My wife was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003. In 2004, in October, they were starting to develop the idea of the building and had established the San Juan [Healthcare] Foundation. Well Francie Smiles came to the Car Club, because we were soliciting and asking for people to come request the funds from the Car Show. And so the car club selected the San Juan [Healthcare] Foundation for the recipients of the car show in 2005. So this is what started it. And so, Francie and Paul Gottlieb presenting their idea at the car club meeting. And then the car club voted to go with that. After that, my wife at the time decided to raise extra funds; she had attained one of these bracelets in Lakewood from friends in Sterling, and so she went to work and got the approval with the car club to do this project, figured we’d raise about $3,000 dollars by having about 1500 bracelets and so we thought, “Well, we’ll try it.” Well, with the Divine Guidance we had, it was just unbelievable the response. In November I opened up the account and in [the following] July then, of 2005, we gave a check to the San Juan [Healthcare] Foundation at the car show for $29,000 that we had raised in six months.
It was just unbelievable. We had probably 15 members of the car club at our house on Sunday and we put together 200, 250 bracelets on a Sunday afternoon. And we had to do that every Sunday! Between the car club members and their families—and several places in Montrose and Olathe—we were selling the bracelets and it was a phenomenal experience, with all the sales we were having. We were informed, a lot of people were selling and shipping their bracelets into Europe, into Asia, into Africa, into Australia, New Zealand—it was a worldwide project, really.

How did that happen—how were you able to reach people that far?
Word of mouth. And we did have—on the car club website—when people would Google that, they would google “cancer awareness bracelets” and our names would come up on the internet. And that was really the only advertising we did, to let people know where they were.
So anyway, as my wife passed away in 2010, I continued the project. We gave a total of $40,000 to the [SJCC] building. After that—there was $1500 from the car show. And then the memorial for my wife was $6,000 dollars. So that $7500 was from other sources—but the rest of the $77,000 we raised came from the bracelets.

That’s incredible.
It is. It’s awesome. And the only way it was possible, I gotta say—so many friends, and Divine Guidance that kicked that project off and got it everywhere.

How does it feel to know that something that seems so simple—making bracelets—that you could raise so much money and make a big impact in the community?
We never dreamed it would be that successful. Like I said, our original goal was to raise $3,000! And we were very thankful at the time that—when my wife first got the idea, she went to the Alpine Bank and told them what they were going to do, to give money back to the community. So they asked her for letters—she wrote the letter—they looked at it, and they said, “We like the idea, we appreciate you coming in, and we’ll give you $1,000 to start up.” Well, two days later, they send her a letter and instead of a thousand, they gave two thousand dollars. And then our son donated a thousand. And then we were going!

I’m looking at information from even 2013 that says you were able to give $70,000 to the cancer center. That’s amazing. I know it has made a big impact here. We appreciate all the time you poured into this!
Would you believe that this morning—of course I had pretty well wrapped up and figured this was over with because I haven’t sold any, yet this morning I got a phonecall from someone wanting a bracelet.

Oh really!
Yes…. I will continue on making a few of them, I’m not going to go full scale, but it’s amazing how it’s continuing to go—people that got the bracelets, and want more of them.
We got to do something to beat cancer—that’s all there is to it. And we’re so thankful to the cancer center we have in Montrose, because that was a second home to us from the beginning—from groundbreaking to 2010. And of course I volunteered at the cancer center for a few years as a runner, and just doing things in the cancer center. That was my goal when we just started out—what we wanted to do was to get things to nurses, not things they needed but things they wanted. With all the different things we bought for them…that was our main goal, is to comfort the patients and get things that the nurses wanted.

Thanks again for being so giving of your time—in several ways.
Thank you!