COO of Tampa Bay nonprofit has high hopes for Miss Florida crown and helping others
Kristin Tomasello, chief operating officer of the nonprofit Remarkable Reasons, based in Palm Harbor, is preparing for the Miss Florida competition this Saturday, June 25.
As the current Miss South Florida, she already wears a crown, but has ambition for a few more. First Miss Florida, then Miss America. All the while, it’s her commitment to a cause that drives her to succeed.
Her nonprofit, Remarkable Reasons, was established to support various causes that advance the lives of those who suffer from disease or have disabilities.
Revenue for the nonprofit is generated via sales from her KT Sunscreen product line.
Tampa Bay Business and Wealth spoke with Tomasello to learn more about Remarkable Reasons, her philanthropic mindset and the journey to Miss Florida.
Tell us a bit about your background and Remarkable Reasons?
Remarkable Reasons was founded to honor our parents and thank them for all the amazing things they have done for us through continuing service to others. My family is my inspiration, and motivation, every day. Together, we have been through tough times. Several family members suffering with cancer, the closest was my father. I was 11 years old, sitting at the piano preparing for my recital, and my dad fell to the ground suddenly. He became unconscious for several moments.
Little did we know that his brain was hemorrhaging from Leukemia. I panicked because I didn’t know if this was the last time I was going to see him. He was sent to Moffitt Cancer Center where he was treated. He lost his eyesight, the ability to walk and was given three days to live. I realized how much life is worth at such an early age.
So many of us have a similar story that is impactful and inspires us to strive for a greater purpose. I believe life is about 10 percent of what happens to us and 90 percent how we decide to react.
What drives you to be so community driven?
I have had health issues since I was 12 years old, which has altered my path in many different ways. I was 17 years old, a junior in high school, and was struggling emotionally with my health. I was going to the doctor yet receiving no answers about why I was passing out, experiencing anaphylactic shock or why my heart rate was [so high].
An experience that impacted me greatly was when I was in English class, in Steinbrenner High School, and someone looked at me and said, “Kristin you’re getting hives and your ears are turning purple.”
I was sent to St. Joseph’s Hospital from school with two epinephrine injections, which made my condition worse and raised my heart rate [even higher]. I was certain I would die that day.
A week and half went by, and I was sent home with 15 different pills to take and still no answers. I began to take different medications that affected my bones negatively. I was on crutches for about a year.
This part of my life taught me that if I do not try to become the voice for the voiceless, then I have learned nothing at all. I was alone, lost and depressed and truly wished I had someone advocating for me to say, “You are important and this trial is part of your purpose.” Many women feel this on many different levels in several ways. I pray I can help empower more women to believe in themselves, and their journey, and that they can overcome anything.
There’s a business aspect to the nonprofit. Talk about that.
I am the owner of KT. KT is patented and was filed in Jakarta, Indonesia. KT is a skin care line, and our first product is KT sunscreen, which is mineral and plant-based to not only prevent skin cancer but protect our ocean animals.
Effective March 2022, we have permission to sell in Indonesia, with U.S. and international permits to follow in the near future.
My passion for this began after I watched my mother suffer from basal carcinoma on her face and learned that skin cancer is the leading cancer in the world. I wanted to learn how I could be a driving force in decreasing that number, so I began experimenting with skin care products in my kitchen.
You are also getting ready to compete for Miss Florida. Talk about that experience and the value it has brought to your professional aspirations.
Competing in the Miss Florida scholarship program has been the most challenging and rewarding experience. The opportunity to become the next Miss Florida is a dream, of course, but the true value in this experience is the support, and the love, that came from the organization and the community. The rigors of academic, business and athletic preparation and the discipline of education, training and rehearsals validated my greater purpose.
What’s next for you?
My goal is to become Miss America and work on a project that is close to my heart – to build a school/community center for the disabled, here in the Tampa Bay area, to advance a more inclusive environment for our families and friends.
What haven’t I asked you that you wish I would have?
I have a unique passion for the community and charitable causes. I remember a time in my life that my family had to move out of the house I was raised in and move to West Tampa with my grandparents. I slept on a couch for eight months. It truly made me think this is reality for so many people, every single day. I had the privilege of having my own room growing up. I intend to inspire others to open their hearts to become more compassionate for their neighbors.