For Kimberly Bloms, things seem to add up differently than they do for many people.
Take an ankle injury that sidelined her in college but then sparked an interest in a physical therapy career; add several years of working with troubled kids, which was stressful but gave her an understanding of how families work; top it with a victory over leukemia that held rather slim odds.
When Bloms puts them together, she sees the recipe for starting a business she hopes will be a success for her and her clients.
She is taking appointments now for the opening of Kids in Motion, a physical therapy clinic for children up to age 18. The clinic, which is the first business to open with the help of a city competition, is in the Every Eye building on Mandan’s Main Street.
Bloms is a Mandan native and a graduate of Mandan High School who now lives south of Mandan with her husband, Adam, and a Labrador named Guinness. She earned her doctorate in physical therapy at University of Mary in 2012. Earlier in her education she was captain of the volleyball team at Bismarck State College, and an ankle injury was her first introduction to physical therapy. She’s also been a coach, and has seen how physical therapy helped athletes recover from injuries.
“The more I learned about it the more I loved it,” she said.
After getting her undergraduate degree at BSC, Bloms worked at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for several years. She found herself a little burned out after her experience at the facility for troubled youth and wondered if she’d work with kids again because of the stress. At age 29 she decided to get her physical therapy doctorate and then worked at a Bismarck nursing home. She later took a job with the Bismarck Early Childhood Education Program as a pediatric physical therapist and early interventionist.
“The job I have, I love,” Bloms said. She enjoys working with families, the ins and outs, even the tears that sometimes come with the victories and setbacks.
“That’s really what I’m going to carry over into this business,” she said. “I feel very connected with the families and kids that I work with, in that sense, and you don’t always get to do that in outpatient. I’m hoping that’s what I can take with me into an outpatient setting, and maybe what’s going to set me apart is that understanding that I have about family dynamics.”
She also has an understanding of the ups and downs of life. In July 2016, Bloms was diagnosed with leukemia. She was taken to Mayo Clinic, where she started chemotherapy within a few days of her diagnosis and later received a stem cell transplant. Mayo doctors told her they had treated about 30 people for the subtype of acute myeloid leukemia she had. She’s the only one to survive for more than a year.
At times during the treatment she was weak and too sick to eat. She lost her vision for two months because the blood vessels in her eyes would bleed if she coughed or sneezed. She called her battle “hefty,” but said it gives her an understanding of how children and families feel when they are going through a rough time.
“I feel like I have kind of a unique perspective because I had a really devastating diagnosis that I honestly shouldn’t have survived,” she said.
Last year, at the urging of Dr. Eve Kostelecky of Every Eye, Bloms entered Mandan’s Business Pitch Challenge. It was an opportunity to form a business plan, get feedback, make business connections and win some prizes to help her get started. She was one of four finalists and eventually chosen runner-up. She is the first Business Pitch entrant to open a business in Mandan.
“I’m super grateful,” she said. “It really helped me get my feet of the ground.”
Bloms will hire an occupational therapist and a physical therapist in coming weeks. She also plans to employ a speech therapist. She will provide services for children who have suffered injuries, have developmental delays or have complex medical conditions such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy.
“A lot of what I do is helping children get back to their previous level of functioning or helping their quality of life,” she said.