By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Julia Gilmore has only been living in Tennessee for a year, but she’s been displaying the volunteer spirit our state is famous for since the time she was 9 years old.
The 14-year-old freshman at Science Hill is currently putting the wraps on her sixth annual fundraiser for kids receiving treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with the goal of collecting $5,000 worth of gift cards and Lego sets. Gilmore expects her latest fundraiser to bring her total raised for St. Jude to over $20,000.
Gilmore traces her desire to help kids at St. Jude back to a health scare she had as a toddler. After spending a lot of time in hospitals at an early age, it became Gilmore’s mission to help kids who are bravely fighting serious illness on a daily basis.
“When I was younger, I was in the hospital a lot,” Gilmore said. “And when I got out of the hospital, I wanted to help other kids who were in my situation. I started making little tie blankets. I made over 200 of those when I was 9 years old. I involved my community, my friends and my school.”
After moving to Tennessee from Chicago a year ago, Gilmore wasted little time getting involved in her new community. In addition to her St. Jude fundraising efforts, Gilmore volunteers three hours a week at the Ronald McDonald House in Johnson City and lends a hand in a variety of literacy projects in addition to cheerleading, taking piano lessons and competing in pageants.
Needless to say, Gilmore enjoys being busy.
“I’m always needing something to do or else I’m board,” she said. “I do cheerleading at my school, I have piano lessons every Thursday, I’m involved with pageants and volunteering every Friday.”
Over the summer, Gilmore competed in the Royal International Miss Scholarship Pageant in Orlando, Florida. Competing against girls from around the world, Gilmore was crowned Miss Royal International Miss International Role Model JR Teen. The competition included public speaking and modeling, but Gilmore said her volunteer work is what set her apart from the competition.
For her career, Gilmore wants to be a pediatric nurse at St. Jude. But for now, she’s enjoying her new home in Tennessee.
“It’s definitely a culture shock because I used to live in Chicago,” she said. “When I first moved here last year, I went to Liberty Bell as an eighth-grader, and people were just super welcoming and nice. I adapted really quickly and I like it here.”