Difference Maker:
Kim Runquist

I met Kim at an engagement party for my sister, Kim’s husband Andy is good friends with my brother-in-law, and immediately I knew I liked her. She has this amazing bright smile, a bubbly personality, and a sweet, disarming demeanor. We’d chat over the next few pre-wedding get-togethers, and the more I got to know her, the more I loved hanging out with her. She is one of the most sincere and kind people. She makes you want to open up to her and makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room. It’s easy to see why she makes a fantastic mother and nurse.

Kim sees caring for others as her calling from God. She was drawn to nursing because her grandmother was a nurse. Her grandmother was a knowledgeable woman with a passion for caring for others, and Kim knew that was what she was also born to do. Kim is a local girl who grew up in the country, just outside Marblehead, IL; she went to Payson Seymore High School and graduated in 2007. Kim started her nursing career, as many nurses do, as a CNA at Blessing, and she was hooked. She went to Truman State University for her Bachelor’s degree; she was a floor nurse once she graduated. Her mentor told her she would be great in the Critical Care Unit, and she was right; Kim loved it right away.

Kim is astounded every day by how people can come into the Unit in a dire state in which they should not logically survive, and she and the team can support them to eventually recover. She says seeing them finally wheel out the door is extremely uplifting. She loves the trust she garners with her patients and that she is able to connect with them about things they wouldn’t even tell their own family, no doubt partly due to her warm smile and soft voice that facilitates their openness. In 2017 she became Director of the Critical Care Unit and started a Master’s degree at Western Governors University. She graduated in 2019, just in the nick of time before the COVID pandemic rocked the world.

Kim and Andy have two lovely children, Cooper (9) and Hadley (6), but they were always “adoption curious.” They felt a strong pull to Foster because they wanted to honor God by caring for His children. In 2019 Kim received a difficult diagnosis that meant that not only would she have trouble getting pregnant, but staying pregnant could be life-threatening for her. The week of her diagnosis, the family went to church, and one of the weekend’s messages was about becoming Foster parents for children in need. Kim says, “We had an Epiphany that we needed to share our blessings. God wanted us to do this, to bless others.” And so, they started Foster Parenting classes through the Marion County Children’s Division, 10th Circuit, and then COVID hit our communities. Classes were then moved to Zoom, which made it more challenging to connect, but were well worth the effort.

Soon after completing their classes, Kim and Andy accepted their first Foster Child, a severely neglected four-month-old girl who needed a lot of love and care. She ended up spending 18 months in physical therapy, but since being with her new family is thriving and is now named Ava. Soon after taking in Ava, they discovered that Ava’s Mother was pregnant again. After much prayer and discussion, the new family of 5 soon became a family of 6! Baby Ema was born just seven months after bringing little Ava home. After 887 days of fostering Ava, she and Ema were adopted on May 3, 2023! Kim says that fostering these two girls was the best thing she and Andy have done; they are the funniest and sweetest kids and have made their home complete. In Missouri, please consider following Coyote Hill Hannibal on Facebook to learn more about Fostering classes. In Illinois, please consider following Connect Child and Family on Facebook to learn more about Fostering classes and how you can help support the cause.

It’s hard to imagine anyone more affected in our community by the COVID pandemic than doctors and nurses. Kim was the Director of Nursing in the Critical Care Unit of Hannibal Regional Hospital at the beginning of 2020 when a “mysterious” disease started to make the news. She was very candid with me in discussing how strange the whole experience was for her and her colleagues. She said it was a lot of preparation and getting supplies, running models, and planning how the influx of patients would be handled, and then it was eerily calm. As we all saw the big cities being inundated with patients, Kim’s team was able to use that to help plan for our community’s wave. As the different waves or variants hit our local area, her unit had to work 18-20 hours shifts dealing with staffing issues when nurses were also getting sick. They could not let family members of the patients into the rooms for visits in an effort to keep them safe, so they did what they called “window visits.”  Kim said, “We ended up having to be their loved-one as well as their nurse and care for them,” which took an emotional toll on her team along with the physical toll the long shifts were taking on them. “It was unlike anything I’ve done before,” she said, “we didn’t have a playbook for this virus. You’d see cancer patients on active Chemotherapy do ok, but then you’d see runners in top shape die; it just didn’t make any sense. “

While the pandemic work schedule was grueling, Kim and Andy also were fostering Ava and Ema, and caring for their biological children, Cooper and Hadley.  Kim says she could not have done any of it without Andy’s support, “He was amazing, he took the brunt of the childcare challenges while I had to be at work. He would likely say that he got pretty good at cooking and putting the kids to bed by himself, but he is very grateful that it is over.”

Now that life is mostly back to normal, Kim is so grateful for all the help and support her family, daycare, and friends were able to give them during all the pandemic waves. She admits that what has kept her going through it all is Andy’s love and support. Kim and Andy met through family in high school; he was friends with her cousin. They got married on her grandfather’s farm in Quincy in 2011.  “Andy is my rock; he is the most laid-back and understanding man. He is so wonderful; he will do anything for anyone. He supports all of my crazy shenanigans; he just goes along for the ride,” Kim giggles. She says what has kept her grounded throughout their wild ride of adoption and COVID is their country life. They live in a house on a farm in the “middle of the woods,” as she describes it, outside of Palmyra, MO. Kim grew up in the country, and she and Andy knew they wanted their children to grow up in the country setting too. They have goats and chickens, and they love that with all that is happening in the world, they can come home and forget about it all. Kim gushes, “At home the animals just need to be cared for, and you can’t be upset when you see a baby goat hopping around; it’s just the cutest thing!”

Story submitted by Nikki Eddy