To paraphrase the infamous words of Fats Domino, we’re going to Kansas City, Kansas City here we come. Our Relay Refresh RoadTrip rolled into the Kansas City, Missouri area to visit with Gem Sunkiller. She has been in Second Life for nearly eight years. She recalls how her real life best friend, Sasha Fairywren in Second Life, told her about her husband taking her to this online world and said “you need to see it”.
A self proclaimed “geek”, she uses an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook Pro, and has two Windows 10 gamer laptops that she uses to DJ and connect to a busy Second Life that includes 54,479 items in her inventory.
A DJ in both RL and SL, her favorite songs include Flirting With Disaster by Molly Hatchet and Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne. Her favorite musicians include Pentatonix and Pat Benatar.
She loves all things “English” having lived across the pond for a year while in college and her favorite TV show is, not surprisingly, The Crown on Netflix. Gem told us the sound of children laughing and her 95 year old father telling a joke are but a few of the things that make her laugh. She told us her favorite times of the year are when winter starts to thaw and summer gets too hot, which just happens to coincide with Relay season.
Gem has been a passionate Relayer since 2011 and told us she Relays for her two heroes, mom and dad. Her mom was a strong, opinionated woman. She raised her three daughters to be the same and taught them to give more than they received in life. Her mom was a brave, strong, determined fighter who lost her battle with cancer in 2011. Her dad, who she admires for the way he shared a home with four females, is a three time cancer survivor, beating back colon cancer and bladder cancer twice. She also Relays for her sister who is a seven year breast cancer survivor.
Gem found out about Relay when a DJ friend invited her to attend one of his sets during Relay weekend. She told us her favorite Relay story was about walking the track that day, thinking about her mom and being consoled by a woman who is now a friend. She remembers being encouraged to become involved in Relay as a way to honor her mom. The very next year she started Team Shadow and has never looked back. She told us she “bleeds purple” and is “totally absorbed” during Relay season.
She also Relays in RL and started “Cookies For A Cure” at the preschool where she works, involving the children and their parents, and raising $6,000 last year. They have done bake sales, tricycle races, kid laps around the playground, even sponsored “kid jumps”, all to raise money for Relay. A very special group of parents, teachers and kids working for a cure.
Her favorite parts of Relay are the camaraderie and spirit that people show. She told us “we are all in this together and we can win... all working together for a common goal”. Gem has been active since her very first visit to that Relay track and has served in a number of roles. Her passion is team outreach and getting as many different people involved as she can. Her personal goal for this year is to be the very best Relayer she can be with a team goal of having the very best season they can.
Relaying until there is a cure… one team, one dream... pairing up with other teams, walking hand in hand... organizing multi team, bring your own kiosk events… 12 hour DJ parties, Blues for Life, Country for a Cure… all parts of Gem Sunkiller and her Second Life… a determined midwestern woman who most definitely bleeds purple.
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