During the coming months, we’ll be highlighting our fighters in training for the upcoming Rumble in the Rockies II in Denver, CO on June 6th. They’ve committed to four months of fundraising and training in preparation to get in the ring and literally fight for a cure. Whether their mom is battling, their father has passed or their friend has put up a victory against the disease – they’ve all got a story to tell and they’ve all got a reason to fight. Below you’ll hear from Kristi Gray, fighting out of Lace Up Boxing Club.

Where are you from?
Marshfield, Massachusetts

Where’d you go to college?
Merrimack College, Colorado Mountain College

Did you play any sports growing up?
I played lacrosse and field hockey.

What do you do for work?
I ski patrol on Snowmass Mountain. I'm a first responder on the mountain to the injured, getting them to a higher level of care safely, and I help with avalanche mitigation. I am lucky enough to absolutely LOVE my job. Skiing pow and throwing bombs- someone's gotta do it :-)

Why boxing? Did you ever picture yourself fighting?
I love boxing because it clears my head. It feels like all the stress leaves my body and enters the bag the moment I make contact. In explaining this to my brother who is also a fighter, he replied, "Yeah, imagine how good it feels to hit a human." (insert laughing/crying emoji here!) I did not EVER actually think I would know that feeling. Or the feeling of being hit. But I have gotten a small taste of it so far and both are oddly, unsuspectingly, addicting and very empowering.

Why on earth did you sign up to fight??
I signed up to fight to prove to myself that I could. To commit to something. To work towards and accomplish something big. I signed up to fight to show myself that I could take something scary and turn it into something incredible. I want to be living proof to all of those people out there diagnosed with cancer that they too can fight and that there is hope to turn their scary situations into an opportunity as well. I am also fortunate enough to have an inspiring coach who believes in me. She knows I can, and when I am at my wits end, she reminds me of that. Having someone like that in your corner is powerful.

You’re stepping in the ring to literally fight for a cure - where are you drawing your inspiration from? How has cancer affected you?
My inspiration are the children of the Shining Stars. I have been fortunate enough to work with the Shining Stars regularly on the mountain and the optimism I see in those kids is truly something to aspire to. Instead of using their circumstances as an excuse to be bitter, these kids are living each day to the fullest and are so grateful for what they have. If we were all able to do a little bit more of that I think the world would be a better place. They are my inspiration.

What is going to be the most difficult thing to give up during your training? (beer, cheeseburgers, time spent watching TV?)
My social life. It will be by far the most difficult thing for me to give up but it is also the aspect of my life I am looking most forward to giving up. I am constantly giving my time away to others and have such a hard time saying 'no' to people, but I am pumped to be able to finally say no to a social life so that I can focus on something that I really want for me and for those I'm fighting for.

When you’re not throwing punches and training -- what other hobbies/interests do you have?
I am a very passion driven person and when my heart is in something, as it is in Haymakers for Hope, there is very little stopping me. Skiing is one of my biggest passions in life. I have revolved my life around it- from where I live, to what I do for work, to who I spend my free time with, what I spend my money on, down to what I eat. The feeling I get charging through steep pow is indescribable and nothing makes me happier. I also like live music and enjoy cooking.

Who do you think is the most excited to watch you get punched in the face come fight night?
Oh man, is there a maximum number of characters when answering this question? Ha! I think probably my brother. In the most loving way possible that is. He is a man of few words, but he is proud of me for being a part of Haymakers for Hope. He'll be cheering when I get punched in the face. But you bet your ass he'll be cheering twice as hard when I punch the other fighter in the face.

Be sure to check out her fundraising page and wish her! Best of luck, Krist