My name is Kevin Bloom and I reside in the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado. On the weekends, you can find me perusing through a list of local coffee shops, running through the foothills of the front range of the Rocky Mountains, or snowboarding throughout the mountain west. I enjoy a variety of physical endeavors, from obstacle races to weightlifting, to martial arts, and to most importantly…running marathons! In fact, I’ll be running the Aspen Valley Marathon next month. Prior to moving to Denver, I lived in Washington, DC where I worked as a business consultant for the Department of Defense. Today, I’m working as a Field Artillery Platoon Leader in the United States Army leading soldiers through complex problems to help protect our nation. After my upcoming deployment in 2022, I’m looking to dive deeper into my passion to connect mental health and physical fitness by pursuing a graduate degree in Integrative Physiology.
Now to why I am running this marathon. Mrs. Lisa Hoekstra was not only my neighbor, but she was also my mother’s best friend. When we moved to Maryland at the age of 10, Mrs. Hoekstra was one of the first people to welcome me and my family to the neighborhood. She was a prominent figure in the community and an inspiration to those around her. She sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer in May 2021. There are so many reasons why she was such a wonderful woman, but here are a few things that made her so great:
- She was so good at listening to people and always found a way to ask questions that made people feel heard. Even when they shared something and didn’t think anyone was listening, she was.
- She was so creative! The way she could transform a room for a party and host the whole neighborhood was always fun to watch and be a part of.
- She loved the Lord deeply and trusted in Him no matter what, even when life circumstances were really hard. She truly reflected His love to those around her.
At the beginning of the pandemic, my friend and I made a pact that for the next several years we would choose a specific physical endeavor to focus on for each year. We wanted a singular focus on the task without having the overwhelming feeling of spreading ourselves too thin. To us, it was about giving an A+ effort on one activity instead of a C+ in multiple. To kick off this journey, I decided that 2021 would be the year of “the run”. For training, I ran three Spartan Races across the country in Montana, Utah, Seattle, and a half marathon in Austin, Texas. For local runs in the Denver area, I have been running in the front range on trails to get used to the elevation of Aspen, CO, and along the city streets near my house when the mountains aren’t an option. The final culminating event for the year of the run will be the Aspen Valley Marathon in October 2021 in support of The National Pancreas Foundation.
A mantra/quote that I live by that is near and dear to my heart is a quote by Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.” No matter what the circumstances are, our only choice in the matter is to choose how we react to that situation. With Mrs. Hoekstra, she continued to act with kindness and love in her heart, even after a life-altering diagnosis. This should be a lesson for us all. Find your path, don’t let the circumstances determine who you are, and spread love to those around you.
My personal mission is to spread positivity to those around me in all facets of my life. With this race, I had the personal aspiration to run the marathon, but more importantly, I want to run this race for Mrs. Hoekstra. Mrs. Hoekstra was a wonderful person, mother, neighbor, and friend, but ultimately, she was one of the kindest people I have ever met. Prior to me leaving for deployment in January of 2022 and prior to the Aspen Valley Marathon on October 16th of that year (that changed to virtual due to COVID), it is my goal to raise as much money as possible for the National Pancreas Foundation in support for finding a cure to pancreatic cancer in her honor.