Kathryn Sundquist is 16 years old, lives in Brainerd, Minnesota and has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. To say she and her family live active lifestyles would be an understatement. Her mom enjoys yoga, running and participating in triathlons. Her dad is an avid biker. Her adult brothers enjoy 4-wheeling, hunting, fishing, and tennis. They all enjoy any reason to be outside!
As for Kathryn, she’s on her high school dance team, named the Kixters, and took fourth place in last year’s state dance competition. She won the 2015 Miss Jr. Teen Brainerd and Miss Jr. Teen Minnesota pageants and has participated in Arthritis Foundation activities since 2012, volunteering and fundraising for local Walk to Cure Arthritis and Jingle Bell Run events, attending the local camp for kids who have arthritis and serving as the 2015 Northern Lakes Walk to Cure Arthritis youth honoree. As if this weren’t enough, she’s also the 2017 Walk to Cure Arthritis national young adult honoree!
The Sundquist family was initially overwhelmed by the idea of fundraising. Having little experience, the notion of organizing a charitable event was intimidating. They quickly learned that, by leveraging what they knew and enjoyed most, and adding a little creativity, fundraising wasn’t so difficult and could be lots of fun.
In 2015, Kathryn called upon her fellow Miss United States pageant queens and organized an event based on the Disney movie, Frozen. Named Frozen Brunch with the Queen, participants met characters from the movie, sang songs, ate brunch and participated in fun activities.
“We never did a fundraiser in our life. The thought was overwhelming,” said Kathryn’s mom, Denise. “We sold 525 tickets in 4 days and could have sold the event out 4 more times!”
This year, the Sundquist’s looked at mom and dad’s activities and circle of friends for fundraising ideas. That led them to their upcoming Bike & Brew and Bend & Brew events.
Held April 29, these two events started separately. Bike & Brew was a 20 mile bicycle tour and Bend & Brew was a 60 minute inspirational yoga session. Both events converged and concluded at a local brewery where guests enjoyed live music and a tasty lunch. Together, these two events raised $1400 for our cause!
On May 6, the Sundquist family is hosting another fundraiser. Named Dance with the Kixters, the inspiration for this event came from an experience Kathryn had as a child.
“When I was young, all the girls looked up to the Kixters, the high school dance team,” explains Kathryn. “We didn’t have the chance to meet or dance with them, so I thought it would be fun to have an event where young girls from the community can meet and dance with members of the team.”
For the Sundquist’s, fundraising has become a fun and successful family endeavor. In previous years they raised more than $9,000 in support of our mission to conquer and cure arthritis. This year, they’ve already raised more than $8,000!
“You have to believe in the organization,” said Denise. “Then look at your family, your connections and the things you like to do. Create something that is fun and allows people to get together and socialize. That’s how we do it.”
Kathryn Sundquist is the 2017 Walk to Cure Arthritis national young adult honoree. For information about a Walk in your area, go to www.WalkToCureArthritis.org.