This month I am incredibly honored to interview Nicole Framarin. Nicole was the best friend of an amazing young woman named Chelsea King.
On March 5th, Race Guards will be participating in the 6th annual “Finish Chelsea’s Run”. I’m sure that almost all of you know the story of Chelsea king. For those that don’t, I wanted to include a brief excerpt from the Chelsea’s Light Foundation website about “Finish Chelsea’s Run.”
In 2010, in the weeks following the passing of Poway High School scholar and athlete Chelsea King, a handful of members of the San Diego running community were so affected by her loss that they asked some of their friends to meet one Saturday to finish the run Chelsea started on February 25 in Rancho Bernardo Community Park.
Chelsea’s life was cut short by the heinous act of a known sexual predator while in the midst of her training run that day in the park. Word quickly spread and on the morning of March 20, 2010 more than 3,500 community members joined together to run and walk in solidarity with, and in honor of Chelsea, who they adopted as one of their own. The original grassroots “Finish Chelsea’s Run” was such a moving and healing experience for the community that Kelly and Brent King decided to make it an official, annual tradition in San Diego hosted by the Chelsea’s Light Foundation, the organization they founded to make positive change for children. Click here to get a glimpse of the original community event that started it all.
Much of Nicole’s involvement in Race Guards has been a tribute to her friend Chelsea. Nicole embodies everything that Race Guards is about. I have been touched deeply by her amazing spirit and grace and the way she embodies the spirit of Chelsea in everything she does.
Q: How did you first become interested in Race Guards?
A: Medicine has always been a passion of mine and I am fortunate enough to have Mr. and Mrs. King foster my enthusiasm. While catching up with Mr. King at lunch one day, we began talking about my role as a volunteer at one of the local hospitals in our town. On this day I was particularly excited, as I had just earned my emergency medical technician license (EMT) and was able to have a better understanding of my role at the hospital. Seeing firsthand how passionate I was about health care, Mr. King encouraged me to pursue Race Guards, as I was then training to run the Chicago Marathon in Chelsea’s honor. As soon as I got home, I looked further into the organization and saw that it combined two of my biggest interests: running and medicine. I jumped at the opportunity and signed up to volunteer.
Q: How has becoming a Race Guards member impacted your life?
A. The first time I ran as a Race Guards team member was at the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon, and I was paired with Laura Dowd, a veterinarian from San Diego. As a medical professional and seasoned athlete, she was able to give me tips on how to not only pace myself during the race, but also how to scan the crowd to seek out runners in need of medical attention. It was not long after that race that Laura and I became close friends, despite the fact that we lived in two different states. That is one of the things I love most about Race Guards; even though we have Race Guards from all over the U.S., we are connected by a united interest, which has turned us into our own special kind of family. Race Guards helped me solidify my decision to pursue a career as a physician, especially after seeing the positive impact that Race Guards has in the running community. It also helps that I have the whole Race Guards community behind me in case I need a little extra motivation along the way.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about Finish Chelsea’s Run and what it means to you?
A. Chelsea’s tragedy was one of the most difficult times I have ever faced. For some time after, I lost my sense of direction. How do you go on living your life like everything is ok, when inside you feel as though your heart has been ripped out? I flew out to San Diego with my family and a few other families from my hometown to run in the race founded by five people who wished to take back their park and finish what Chelsea started. Race Guards founder, Andy Voggenthaler, is actually one of those original five. Chelsea and I were best friends since first grade. My friend Jennifer introduced us and the three of us instantly clicked. When Jennifer and I arrived at Balboa Park, I was taken aback by the sheer amount of participants and positive energy in the air. As I watch runners cross the finish line, I was constantly reminded of how much love and support the community continued to give us. But more importantly, I was reminded how lucky I was to have Chelsea for a friend.
Q: What is the most memorable event in which you have participated?
A. Losing Chelsea was by far the biggest hurdle that life has thrown at me thus far. Her tragedy occurred when I was a senior in high school, just seventeen years old. Watching our community rally together to pass Chelsea’s Law gave me a new perspective and helped me pick up the pieces of my life after her passing. I can remember explaining the law and having certain people criticize it saying that the law would be impossible to pass. And yes, there were speed bumps along the way, but you don’t stop driving your car just because you run out of gas. You refuel and keep driving, which is exactly what we did. Just six short months after Chelsea’s tragedy, Chelsea’s Law was passed. Two years later, I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon in Chelsea’s honor, which presented me with a whole new set of physical and mental challenges. But ones that I welcomed with open arms because by that point, I had learned that there is always a way to beat the odds and reach your goal. Today, I use this mentality to power me through the challenges and obstacles I am faced with in medical school.
Q: How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?
A. Go big or go home. It was Chelsea’s life motto. After losing her, I adopted it as my own.
Q: How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?
A: We treat all types of athletes, ranging from the weekend warriors to the well-seasoned marathoner. They all have days when they are in need of first-aid assistance. I love watching athletes push their bodies to achieve more than they ever dreamed possible. Being a Race Guards team member means that I get to be involved in that process. My partner and I get to treat them in the middle of the race, before sending them on their way to “go big”.
Q: I know that Chelsea loved quotes and that “Finish Chelsea’s Run” is often lined with signs that have favorite quotes of hers. Do you have a favorite quote?
A. When I first decided to run the Chicago Marathon, the only running (and I’m using this term generously here) that I was accustomed to doing was the mile in gym class, and even that was more than I bargained for. But Chelsea dreamed of running the Chicago Marathon, so I vowed to do it in her honor. Training for the marathon was intense, but nothing could compare to the emotions I felt when I saw the King family as well as my own family, standing at the finish line cheering for me. “The only time you should look back is to see how far you have come” is one of my favorite quotes. There are times when medical school can get challenging so I like to look back and see how far I have come; academically, emotionally, mentally and physically.
Thank you, Nicole, for your dedication to Race Guards and the perseverance you have demonstrated to get to where you are today. I can’t wait to see what you do next!
Interviewed by Race Guard Patty Mas