Meet Mrs. Kimberly Alexander. Some may say she is grace under pressure and others that she always looks for the light in the darkness. Either way there has been nothing but good things surrounding wife of the late NFL linebacker, Elijah Alexander.
In addition to being an author, public speaker, and event planner, Kimberly has shown hope throughout her husbands five-year battle with cancer.
Elijah Alexander came out of Kansas State and dedicated nine seasons with four NFL teams including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and three seasons each with the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colt, and the Oakland Raiders. He made 29 starts in 30 games for the Raiders during the final two years of his career in 2000 and 2001. Four years after his final snap in the NFL Alexander was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. He passed at the age of 39.
This loss has taught Kimberly a lot, but most importantly how to live each day to the fullest. This role model and woman of strength is the Off the Field Players’ Wives Association Woman of the Month.
“I know that what our family went through wasn’t in vain. I want to set an example for my sons and show them that they cannot use his loss as an excuse to not move on. They are my husbands legacy, “ Alexander tells Theresa Villano of Pro Player Insiders, when asked about what she has went though. In an interview with Alexander, we were able to uncover more about her life, her cancer advocacy, her son playing at Kansas State, and how her late husbands 39 year life has impacted so many.
Pro Player Insiders: We have to start by asking about the obvious… how do you keep up with all of your projects? You are an Author, speaker, event planner and much more but what have you been currently working on?
Kimberly Alexander: Honestly, all of them. I believe in keeping several balls in the air at all times. With my oldest son off in college and my youngest, a junior in high school, I keep multiple projects in the works. I’ll be an empty nester soon and want to stay busy. I published one piece called Fairytales, Fate and Fortitude, and I have the outline for another done. I’m venue hunting for additional sites to continue the dinner series I started, and I’m still active in the cancer community as a fundraiser and advocate for patients and caregivers.
PPI: What are your thoughts on the 2014 season so far? What team are you supporting this year? Which players are you rooting for?
KA: Like every year, it’s hard to take your eyes off of the NFL. The off field news this season is a stark contrast to how entertaining the game itself is. Because I understand the business side of it, I root for certain players & coaches more than teams. I loosely keep up with the teams my husband played for, the Bucs, Broncos, Colts and Raiders, but always cheer for the players and coaches I actually know.
Woman of the Month…
PPI: Tell me a little about your passions outside of supporting your husband’s NFL career?
KA: When he played, of course my children, but towards the end of his career I got the itch to start a tee shirt business, so I did. I’ve always been interested in fashion. Seeing a need for feminine tee shirts to wear to sporting events, as opposed to jerseys, I started Sparkle Clothing & Accessories. This was back in like 2001. I started making tees for my girlfriends and it just blew up from there. Instead of just working with NFL wives, I started doing shirts for NBA & MLB wives, their kids, etc. They were all custom made with Swarovski crystal that I was setting by hand. I loved every minute of it.
PPI: You have a passion for writing and events. How did your business start? How did you come up with the name?
KA: For years I coordinated luncheons for active and retired NFL wives in the Dallas area. After my husband passed, and I got out of the bubble I realized I’d been in. I thought it’d be fun to do the same thing, just open it to people outside of football. I’ve always had a thing for bringing people together for social, business or charitable activities. A friend of mine, who’s also a mentor, suggested the name Kim Connects because it really did just made sense.
PPI: You use the infinity sign in your Kim Connects logo. What is the significance of that?
KA: I’ve always been intrigued by the symbol, what it represents: never ending, limitless, forever. I’d never mentioned that to the gentleman who designed my logo for me. I’ve known him a few months and when I told him what I needed a logo for, it’s what he sent me within about 5 minutes of our conversation. I was stunned. I loved it. Never considered anything else after I laid eyes on it. It fits for what I do, what I represent.
PPI: Was there a moment thus far since you started that you’re like this is exactly why I wanted to start this company?
KA: Many. After my first dinner event, the feedback was rewarding. It was great to hear that my people were receptive to my idea of my idea and concept. I can’t wait to do more. The public speaking and writing aspect of things is a passion from the sense that I want people to learn from my experience. I’d like to know that what our family went through wasn’t in vain. I’ve never been a “why me”/ “why us” girl. I’m more about putting my big girl panties on and moving forward. Sharing can help others.
PPI: You host exquisite events. What is your go to event item?
KA: The guests. As long as you have a room filled with great people, the right people, the little things are just atmosphere. The guests create the best energy and I want them leaving excited and wanting more.
PPI: If you could fast forward, in the next couple of years, what are your goals for Kim Connects?
KA: I’d be doing a lot more traveling for speaking engagements, perhaps a radio show, hosting seminars and of course more connecting events outside of just Dallas.
PPI: You live in Dallas so we have to hit you with the PPI Dallas FIRE 5. Tell us your favorite things about living in the “D.”
1. Best Restaurant? I eat out a lot, hard to name one. I like Gemma.
2. Favorite place to shop? North Park Mall & Highland Park Village, it’s a toss up.
3. Go to tourist attraction? Klyde Warren Park, great people watching
4. Favorite current Cowboys player? Dez Bryant, because of that “Throw up the X” thing
5. Best thing about Cowboys Nation? They are diehard and entertaining to watch. I don’t love any NFL team like they love their Cowboys. Their dedication reminds me of how powerful the NFL is.
PPI: In addition to work you do a lot of philanthropy. Tell us more about your families work in the community.
KA: We have done a lot within the cancer community in Dallas. We helped open the Cancer Resource Center at Medical City Dallas, sponsored a room in their hospital, providing financial assistance and gifts for many children who were diagnosed with cancer.
PPI: On a different note, another one of your passions is St. Jude’s hospital. I read your blog (http://kimconnects.com) Tell me about your involvement.
KA: I work with St. Jude’s on behalf of Off the Field, Players’ Wives Association. I’m one of the founding members and a former board member. Our organization has worked with several charities over the years, including the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. I have often assisted with coordinating the events at both the local or national level. St. Jude has an extra special place in my heart because of their mission, providing free medical treatments and more for children diagnosed with cancer, sickle cell and other diseases. When we partnered with them for their Give Thanks Walk for first time last year, I was super excited. I serve as the Off the Field team leader for the Dallas area with their event.
Your late husband and Football…
What many may not know is your husband, Elijah Alexander, an NFL Veteran from 1992-2001, passed away after a five year battle with multiple myeloma. A 10th round pick of the Buccaneers in the 1992 draft out of Kansas State, Your husband played with Tampa, Denver, Colts, and Raiders. In 2006, he founded the Tackle Myeloma Foundation/Tackle Cancer Foundation, which has continued to search for a cure and help his legacy live on far beyond his years on the gridiron. We want to share some of your memories with Eli.
PPI: How did you meet Mr. Eli Alexander?
KA: I met him at a party my sophomore year at the University of Florida. It was after his rookie season with the Bucs and he was in town with his frat brothers. We went out a week later and that was it, the rest is history.
PPI: How many years were you married? How has his legacy lived on?
KA: He passed a few months before our 15th wedding anniversary, we’d been together almost 17 years.His legacy lives on in our two sons. One goes to his alma mater, Kansas State.
PPI: What has his foundation been able to do and what do fans need to know about Myeloma?
KA: My husband started the foundation in ’06 while he was recovering from a stem cell transplant. I didn’t have an active role in it at that time because I was consumed with being his caregiver. I was very proud of him though because he not only raised money to help kids with cancer and myeloma patients, but he also became an advocate and did speaking engagements about his diagnosis, treatment, etc. I recently decided to shut the Tackle Cancer Foundation down and lend my voice and efforts to other cancer organizations. Things weren’t ever quite the same after he passed away and I had to be honest with myself about how I wanted to move forward. I still feel very connected to the cancer community. I narrated an educational video called “Multiple Myeloma in the African American Community” to help raise awareness about the blood cancer. I try to do all I can to tell people about it and its treatment options.
PPI: How have you stayed strong since his passing? Has he inspired any of your projects?
KA: I’ve stayed strong thanks to our sons. I knew that if I fell apart that they’d have no one to turn to. I wanted to set an example for them and show them that using his loss as an excuse to not move on… was not an option. They were in middle school at the time, a critical period for young boys and I wanted them to stay on the path my husband and I had set for them. As for how he’s inspired me, I picked up where he left of in the cancer advocacy realm.
PPI: What was your favorite moment watching your husband play?
KA: The day he intercepted a pass from Dan Marino and ran it back for a touchdown. He was playing for the Colts at the time. Watching my linebacker husband run with the ball was hilarious and exciting! We have frame by frame images of that play on our game room wall to this day.
PPI: Which of your husband’s former teammates have you remained close to?
KA: There are several that keep in touch with me. Social media helps with that a lot, but it’s not rare for one to reach out, to check in on me and the boys. That’s always appreciated.
PPI: When Eli was playing was there a wife or family you connected with during his time in the league?
KA: We were on so many teams that I feel like we connected with folks at every stop. Especially in Denver, which was the first team we were on when we were engaged. It hurt when we left and it taught me to be careful about getting too close to people because the business side of football can change things quickly.
PPI: Tell us about your children. I hear one of your sons is great at football?!
KA: I have 2 sons, but NEITHER of them play football, shocking, I know. My oldest suffered a shoulder injury at the start of his junior season and was told he’d need surgery to repair it if he wanted to continue playing. I wasn’t a fan of that idea (having watched my husband go through the same surgery twice) so when he said he didn’t want it, his football days ended. My youngest plays baseball.
PPI: What advice would you give other women about balancing their lives especially after losing a husband?
KA: Pour yourself into other activities and live. Remember what you love to do, remember what you always said you want to try and experience those things one moment at a time. Losing my husband is the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, but it’s also the one thing that makes me appreciate the people and experiences I love the most.
PPI: How can football fans and Pro Players Insiders fans help support Kim Connects or find you to support your efforts?
KA: I encourage everyone to give back, in some form or fashion. Cancer initiatives are where my focus is directed and I’d especially love for people to learn more about Multiple Myeloma since we still need to find a cure. I’m always going to help cancer patients and their families because after having experienced what we did, I feel like all of us who have gone through something similar are like family. As for Kim Connects, I am always looking exciting opportunities to share information with guests who attend my events. I also love unique venues. All of that adds to the overall depth of the experience. For more info about my events and how to be a part of them, people can visit www.KimConnects.com, email at Info@KimConnects.com, of follow me on Twitter and Instagram @TheKimAlexander .
PPI: What will your family be doing for Christmas.
KA: We save the big holiday dinner for Christmas, not Thanksgiving.
Follow @Theresa_ppi @PlayerInsiders and @TheKimAlexander
Special thanks to Ericka Lassiter, President of Off the Field Player Wives Association @OTFPWA for contributing to this article.
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