Nora McInerny on charity Still Kickin: 'It’s a community of people who give a rip about strangers'

Nora McInerny (second to right) laughs with the crew.

Nora McInerny (second to right) laughs with the crew.

Two years ago, Nora McInerny saw an opportunity to pull something positive from a recent wreckage she had experienced.

Still Kickin’s 2nd Birthday

Bauhaus Brew Labs

Non-profit Still Kickin began as a way to honor the legacy of her husband, Aaron, who passed away from a brain tumor. As the story goes, he was wearing a shirt with those very words on it the day he had a seizure back in 2011.

While Still Kickin started as a simple T-shirt slogan, it has grown into a battle cry, a movement, and a way to support people who have been, as McInerny puts it, “kicked in the throat by life.”

“Those two words have meant a lot to different people who didn’t know us,” she says. “Still Kickin is more than a sad story; it’s a community of people who give a rip about strangers.”

For the uninitiated, each month the organization selects a hero, shares their story of struggle and strength, and gives them the profits from their retail sales and the donation-based workout events they host across the country.

“When this thing started, my hopes were so low,” McInerny recalls. “But I figured that the worst thing that would happen is that I’d try and fail. I’d rather that than die having not tried anything.”

Soon, others began to get involved, and the organization quickly expanded.

“I couldn’t have ever imagined how it would grow,” says McInerny. “Because I have a bad imagination.”

To date, more than 20 individuals have been selected as heroes, ranging from sick kids, families with mounting health care bills, and people with developmental disabilities.

This Monday, Still Kickin will celebrate its second birthday with a massive all-ages bash at Bauhaus Brew Labs. The event will spotlight the work Still Kickin has done over the past 12 months, offer attendees the chance to purchase swag, and serve as the unveiling of the 2017 Still Kickin Summer Pale Ale, created by the Northeast brewery.

The party this Monday will also shine a light on some of those past heroes while raising funds for new ones, but without all of the stuffy pomp and circumstance of your average charity event.

“I always want [Still Kickin’] to be easy and accessible for everyone,” Mcinerny says. “I don’t want it to be a thing where you have to buy some expensive ticket to a gala, and bid on some wine you don’t want, and eat cold chicken. I want people to feel like they can stop by, buy something, and feel like they’re a part of this. Just by buying a beer or a T-shirt you’re changing someone’s life.”

While the organization has grown considerably since its inception, McInerny says the initial motivation remains the same.

“When something tragic happens, people don’t see you,” she says bluntly. “You become invisible, and it’s really lonely. No matter how much people say they’re there for you or how many Facebook statuses they like, you aren’t getting the same brunch invites you were before. This is our way of saying we see you and you’re important.”

As for the future of Still Kickin, McInerny has to stay somewhat tight-lipped about what’s still to come. However, the one thing she can say confidently is that it will continue to grow thanks to the work of those making it a priority.

“I’m not trying to do it all myself,” she says. “We have a great CEO and a board that guiding it, and I’ve reached a point where I realized that just because I have other interests and things going on in my life doesn’t make it any less important.”

But even after finding incredible success over the past year, McInerny remains her own toughest critic.

“I think the thing I’m most worried about is having a party that no one shows up for. I really hope that doesn’t happen.”


Still Kickin's 2nd Birthday Party
Bauhaus Brew Labs
6-9 p.m. Monday, July 24  
Click here to register