Volunteer Spotlight – Kraig Kuusinen

Kraig Kuusinen Party in the Park 2015

Kraig Kuusinen Volunteer of the Month January 2018

This month, we would like to recognize an extraordinary sarcoma survivor and RIS volunteer, Kraig Kuusinen.

Kraig is an inspiring, kind and motivated sarcoma survivor and volunteer.  Diagnosed in 1986, Kraig is now 30 YEARS cancer free from sarcoma!!!  A year after his original diagnosis, Kraig began twitching in his arms and legs.  Kraig was attending college at the University of Minnesota and was devastated to learn his cancer had returned to the left part of his brain.  Back in 1987, *no one* had survived osteosarcoma in the brain... but Kraig did.

In 2005, after almost 20 years cancer free,  Kraig learned about the Rein in Sarcoma Foundation and was eager to get involved.  He wanted to "give people hope that they can survive and live a normal life."

Kraig is currently is chairman of the Patient and Family Support committee, which matches mentors to newly diagnosed patients, plans supportive events for those affected by sarcoma, and collects donations and assembles care packages which are distributed at local hospitals to newly diagnosed sarcoma patients.

Kraig has also been responsible for the luminary station at our signature event, Party in the Park, for many years.  Luminaries are decorated by attendees in honor of survivors and patients, or in memory of a loved one lost to sarcoma. During the closing ceremony, a candle is lit inside each one, and their names are read for thousands to hear.

Kraig also contributes in other ways, such as volunteering at the Winter gathering, The Volunteer Expo at Mall of America, and other events.  He encourages others to get involved "to help others."

His advice for anyone personally facing a diagnosis or caring for someone with this diagnosis is to "Always stay optimistic.  Talk about what you are going through with others."

Thank you Kraig for inspiring and helping others.

Know an incredible RIS volunteer? Please email Chelsey Olafson at chelseysaveslives@gmail.com