Five Questions For… Rob Kinas (of Cancer Research Racquet)
Rob Kinas is a Las Vegas lawyer and avid tennis player who in early 2005 was diagnosed with a rare, and deadly, form of blood cancer – Mantle Cell Lymphoma. By the end of the year, he had come through a six-month hospital stay and was on the road to recovery. Ready to give back to those who helped fund the research that saved his life, he started a fundraising initiative called Cancer Research Racquet.
Still going strong after 12 years (and counting), Kinas has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research and by all accounts has had a lot of fun along the way. Every year he, his friends and fellow donors hopscotch the world, attending pro tennis events, playing tennis, and organizing fundraisers to raise money to support cancer researchers (currently, they are funding five of them).
Every December one of their stops is the Top of the Mark in San Francisco, where Kinas hosts an “endless champagne” event. If you are interested in attending this year (on Friday, Dec. 8), contact Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. You host fundraisers at many wonderful tournaments around the world. Which are your favorite events?
While we host fundraisers at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open (where the tennis is beyond incredible), my favorite events around the world are where the connections and interactions are the strongest amongst the people who care about advancing the cause. The events with the most intense interactions are (1) our annual, Opening Day, Corporate Event at the French Open in Paris in May, (2) the Aspall Tennis Classic at Hurlingham in the United Kingdom in June (www.hurlinghamtennisclassic.com) and (3) our “Endless Champagne” & Cancer Research Celebration at the Top of the Mark in San Francisco in December.
2. You are still an avid tennis player, even after going through a major health crisis. How do you maintain your fitness and skill level?
First, my chemotherapy treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma (R-Hyper CVAD) required hospitalization for nearly all of six months. During any lengthy hospitalization, your muscles atrophy, you lose all quickness and your mind may command a certain body movement but your body does not respond. My oncologist encouraged me to work diligently to regain my strength so that I would be ready to fight in case of a relapse and a second battle with the disease. Thankfully, no relapse happened and I am a grateful guy. My physical recovery took nearly two years and the process was slow and frustrating but you press on. And slowly your body and mind reconnect. Today, I am a chin-up and dip guy. Upper body strength helps with the serve and volley. As to leg work, I leave that to my tennis coach, Nikol Dimitrova from Bulgaria (UNLV) who runs me from corner to corner as she has no sympathy for age and no tolerance for a lackadaisical attitude.
3. Can you tell us about the National Team Championships that you host annually in Las Vegas?
Our National Team Championships is a version of the NCAA Team Championships but for those who have graduated college and who still love the game. The tournament has four divisions – Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Men’s 5.5 and Men’s Open Doubles. Each September, 400 players travel to Vegas for this team competition in Las Vegas. All play for the love of the game (no points / no prize money / the winners receive beer and t-shirts). All help advance the cause as the entry fee goes to the American Cancer Society. Entering the tournament is easy. Just contact eight to ten of your tennis-loving friends from anywhere in the world, register for the event in July (Sue Johnson is our Tournament Director / email@example.com ) and then pack your rackets and travel to Las Vegas in September for three days of intense play. And the line calls are generally very good.
4. What research topics are the Cancer Research Racquet scientists currently investigating?
Our group has funded five cancer research grants through the American Cancer Society’s Pay-if program. All of our Cancer Research Rock Stars are on the website – www.CancerResearchRacquet.com. Jennifer Richer is the professor of pathology at the University of Colorado and studies nuclear receptor action in breast cancer. Tiffani Jones is a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Oregon studies stomach cancer. Ryan Honaker is the Director of Microbiology at EpiBiome and was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford and researched stomach cancer. Bryan Mitton is a Hematology-Oncology Clinical Fellow of Pediatrics at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University and studies blood cancer. Terry Medler studies cancer cell growth at Oregon Health & Science University.
5. What are some of the ways that people can get involved with Cancer Research Racquet?
People can become involved with Cancer Research Racquet by just saying “yes”. “Yes” can mean many things. A person can attend an event and meet the researchers. A person can invite friends who care to be part of the group. A person might have a great fundraising idea for friends in a particular community and our group would help support its launch. A person might want to help organize an existing event. We help individuals who care advance the cause in ways that are meaningful to them. If you have an idea or wish to become involved, just drop me a note – Robert Kinas / firstname.lastname@example.org.