Kelly Moore is a cable TV music host, a Lino Lakes school teacher and a former cheerleader for the Minnesota Vikings.
But most important, said Moore, she's a breast cancer survivor -- which compelled her to pull together her varied talents to raise $20,000 last year for the breast care center at St. John's Hospital in Maplewood.
In the process, she's launched one of the most creative fundraisers to combat breast cancer in the Twin Cities, with everything from rock bands to oxygen tables to swimsuit runway models. And about this time of the year, she's gearing up for the third gala sponsored by Treasured Chests, the nonprofit she founded that brings together Twin Cities artists, musicians, models and health care providers for a night of entertainment.
"This took everything that I love doing and I'm good at, and pulled it all together,'' said Moore, 36, whose planning skills as a third-grade teacher keep her organized. "I feel like I've made my parents proud.''
Launching a nonprofit to prevent breast cancer was not at all in Moore's life plans until 2002, when she successfully battled the disease. She'd been happily teaching for more than 15 years, hosting a cable show called TC Muzique and promoting some local rock bands.
"As I was going through treatment, I thought, 'If I ever make it out of this, I'm going to make a difference,'" she said.
And so, while most Minnesotans are hunting for holiday gifts, Moore also is scouting for musical talent, sponsors and about 100 volunteers to put together next summer's gala. Her shopping list isn't just for gifts for her 12-year-old daughter Paige and her parents in Mendota Heights, but also for auction items for her third fundraiser in Minneapolis.
That's when the Zuhrah Shrine Center, which donates its space for the fundraiser, is transformed into a stage featuring a ship on a stormy sea. It's an analogy for the voyage that cancer survivors endure, Moore said.
That's not to mention the miniature golf course, "walking art,'' a fashion show, food, drink and 2,500 pieces of sushi donated by Ichiban, a Minneapolis restaurant.
"It's really different,'' said Anita Eicher, supervisor of Health East's Breast Care Center at St. John's Hospital. "Usually when I go to these [fundraising] events, I'm with people who are 45 [years old]-plus, very subdued, very businesslike.
"I've never seen so many people donating money who were under 30,'' she said. "She has a fashion show, very much on the edge. There's male models in swim trunks -- it was something happening all the time. And everything was donated, so all the proceeds go to fighting breast cancer.''
Moore, who grew up in Inver Grove Heights, found that the enthusiasm she brought to teaching and cheerleading translated into a knack for encouraging donations. Dozens of businesses have donated items and services.
Meanwhile, her background as a music promoter and TV host helped her book some well-known Twin Cities bands. Finding a core group of volunteers, she said, helped transform her dream into reality.
She now speaks to college students about breast cancer, keeps a MySpace account to promote her work, and is dedicated to helping younger people learn about a disease that affects about 178,000 women in the United States each year.
She recalls the reaction of her otherwise exuberant third-graders when they first learned she had cancer.
"They wanted to know: Can I get it from touching you? Can my mom and dad get it?'' she recalled. "They were uncomfortable.''
But the students now pitch in on the Treasured Chests events. Their artwork was displayed during the two fundraisers held so far. And last summer a group of students held garage sales and donated the proceeds -- $200.
Moore says she's grateful for the opportunity to be working with so many different types of people, all toward a common goal.
"I think I've got the best job in the world during the day," she said, "and I get to live out the rest of my dreams with all the other opportunities presented to me.''
Jean Hopfensperger 651-298-1553