Project Unicorn

Guest Blog by Drew DeMaree, Owner, The Freedom Companies

Drew DeMaree lost his beautiful wife, Kimberley earlier this year to inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” because the breast often looks swollen and red, or “inflamed.” For more information about inflammatory breast cancer: The IBC Network Foundation

Both Kimberley and Drew worked in the real estate industry most of their adult lives, and in 2020, Drew founded The Freedom Companies, an independent business coaching, training and events company. After Kimberley’s diagnosis, Drew began hosting training events and donating the proceeds to VBCF.  Drew’s Facebook posts about the struggles associated with cancer, supporting a spouse with a stage 4 diagnosis, and surviving a loved one whose life is cut short are honest, touching and inspirational.  They have provided support for many who find themselves in similar situations, and they have provided a beautiful insight to Drew and Kimberley’s love story.

As I write this blog post all I can think about are unicorns! In fact I believe that unicorns are
everywhere. They are ordinary people like you and me walking around doing extraordinarily
hard things. So if you are a cancer survivor, a cancer patient currently, or have someone in your world that was a warrior, and you strive to keep their legacy alive, then you belong in a field of unicorns. I am truly humbled to be in your presence.

I would like to tell you a unique story about a warrior unicorn queen whom I hold close to my
heart. It is my wish that this story gives you hope and the strength you need to wake up and
show up like a unicorn every single day.

Within just 533 days after her diagnosis of Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, specifically
Inflammatory Breast Cancer, my unicorn warrior, Kimberley, took her last breath on April 5,
2022. She was 42 years young. However, cancer did not and will not ever define my beautiful
wife, so this is not where her story begins.

Kimberley lived her life TO ITS FULLEST with no regrets and no apologies. This was true both
prior to her diagnosis and throughout her cancer journey. Kimberley got her sparkle on during
her cancer battle; no test result or doctor’s opinion was going to define her. She refused to give
in to the stereotype of a cancer patient, and she continued LIVING! This is why we believe in
unicorns and know that Kimberley was and will always be leading her herd of unicorns forward
with energy and laughter!

Here are a few of the quick details of Kimberley’s journey in this life:

  • Born October 15, 1979, to her parents Tim and Cheryl, young high school sweethearts in love.
  • Kim was an identical twin to her sister, Kelley.
  • She also had two younger siblings, Timothy and Courtney; all four siblings held a special bond and worked together as one unit.
  • Kimberley and I met in college at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island at just 18 years old.
  • We married when we were both 21 years old. Married for 20 years.
  • We had our one and only miracle daughter, Emma, at the age of 25.
  • We lived a normal and pretty ordinary life. Yet, Kim always had this “go faster” and
    “never stop” mentality that carried her throughout both her personal and professional life.
  • On September 29th, 2020, she received the news that no human should ever experience; the doctor told her that she had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, specifically Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
  • Kim spent over 14 months attending doctor appointments, undergoing chemotherapy,
    and various surgical procedures. Her tumors traveled to several parts of her body,
    including over 78 tumors in her brain, and countless tumors in her bones, lungs, and spinal fluid.

She knew she was going to die. Despite the doctors’ expected timeline, Kim defied all logic and
medical symptoms. Her doctors quickly nicknamed her “a unicorn” because of her response to
her treatment and her extremely positive mindset of living life despite her circumstances.
When Kim lost her hair, she found crazy colorful wigs to celebrate her spice for life. She lost
weight and energy, yet we traveled almost every month for 10 months to fulfill the bucket lists
she created. We traveled the world, creating memories that our extended family, friends,
Emma and I cherish.

Kim took her last breath at 11:24 pm on April 5, 2022. She was surrounded by her family, her
friends, our daughter, and myself. She died with grace and courage.

Of course, she planned every detail of her own funeral of epic proportions, with over 270 people in attendance and over 110 people watching it virtually online. She chose the songs, her casket, and her final resting place, but even more important to Kim, she planned one hell of a celebration of life party at a local brewery! Our unicorn loved to celebrate and plan everything in her life; she was always the family party planner. So, it was fitting that the final party she
planned was in her honor!

Because she was an identical twin and their birthday month is in October, we all know this
month will be hard forever. In true Kimberley fashion, we decided to take what would normally
be a sad time for us and turn it into a “unicorn moment.” The UNICORN BALL was conceived as
an annual event to be held each October to honor her legacy.

My daughter Emma and myself spearheaded what we now call PROJECT UNICORN, which is
the non-profit 501c3 organization we created in memory of Kimberley DeMaree, “our unicorn.” It is our mission to cast the spotlight on inflammatory breast cancer and ultimately find a cure for all forms of breast cancer. By funding non-profit organizations making strong and rapid
advancements in breast cancer research, education and treatments, we know we can make a
difference. At Project Unicorn, we truly believe unicorns are real; ordinary people performing
amazing acts of kindness build legacies that make the world “sparkle.”

I say all of this to ask you to join us for our inaugural nonprofit event to celebrate “our unicorn.” Kimberley’s love for musicals and romantic movies gave us our ongoing love story theme. This year we celebrate with her ultimate favorite – The Moulin Rouge! A night filled with tasty food, amazing beverages, live jazz music, and a live charity auction. The Unicorn Ball will be held on Thursday, October 20th, at Bartizan in Henrico, VA. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

If you have any items that you or a friend, or a business can provide for our auction, we would be so full of gratitude. Contact Kimberley’s parents have operated a professional auction company ( for over 30 years, and they will be providing live charity auction services on the night of our Unicorn Ball as well as an online auction that will allow extended bids on additional items until October 31st.

We would love for you to attend, donate, and/or bid to support Project Unicorn. All proceeds will benefit the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation and the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Network Foundation.

So as I end this blog post, I smile because the thought of unicorns in the world gives me hope.
Kimberley’s story may be similar to a cancer story you have heard, or maybe some of the details connect with your personal experiences. Cancer in all forms and stages is hard. Cancer strips one of physical capabilities, and yet the mental strength required in the cancer journey is
something that only a unicorn can endure. Whether you are healthy or battling cancer, wake up every day and choose to be a unicorn! Imagine how our world would look each and every day.

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