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Meet FIRST Member, Kenny Krips

 “I am no longer stuck…”

As life would have it, after a few failed attempts to connect during a very busy fall, we finally had the pleasure to meet with member Kenny Krips in Philadelphia this past October. Over the summer, Kenny had contacted the FIRST office to check in, say hello, and inform us of one important detail, “It was time to tell his story.”

We think it’s important to share it!

Kenny was born in a small southern New Jersey town, Glendora, in 1970, a time period when very little was known about his skin condition (ARCI-lamellar type ichthyosis), and even less known about its  treatment. His childhood, once depicted in a documentary entitled “Kenny”, was admittedly not ideal, as he not only was singled out for his skin condition, but was also the child of divorce at a very early age.

However, to his good fortune, Kenny was surrounded by the love of a supportive older brother, and a mother to whom he gives a world of credit for his upbringing.  “Raising a child with a rare condition that no one has ever heard of, virtually on her own, my mom never once let on that she was anything less than strong and confident,” he said. And, she taught him one of the most valuable lessons of all: Do not pity yourself. Respect yourself, and always present well.

And present well he does. Although Kenny admitted over the years he has experienced dark periods of frustration and low self-esteem, he now feels his life experience, including his ichthyosis, has brought him to a place of acceptance, with a good dose of wisdom.   He is a friendly, well-spoken gentleman, with a new perspective on life, and an enviable passion for his work.

“In a way, I am blessed to be around trauma,” Kenny proclaimed.

Although Kenny’s degree is in interior design, he feels compelled to help people on a deeper level. As the business supply coordinator for the trauma unit at Cooper University Hospital, he has ample opportunity to connect with people in a very deep and meaningful way.

“This woman came into the trauma unit because she had been in a car accident. She had Alzheimer’s and was very confused and agitated. I sat next to her and just rubbed her foot. She did not ask what happened to me (lifting his hands up to show that they are very affected), she just sat, looked me in the eyes, and listened. And then she started to calm down. She seemed to really be affected by what I was saying,” he said, further explaining why his job is so fulfilling.  “The other day a man in the trauma unit stopped me and said, ‘thank you so very much.’ For what?, I asked. ‘You asked me if I was ok and let me know you were here to help me and that made all the difference.’ It really made me feel good.”

Kenny credits his job as being a major influence for his newly found perspective. “There are so many parts of my job that make me feel good about being alive. And as my mom always said, “If you help one person in 44 years, you did your job.”

He has also come to terms with the notion that “everyone suffers” in one way or another. “I do still get frustrated, sometimes. Like when I want to wear black or be outside on hot day. But everyone struggles with something once in a while…finances, career, health issues. Everyone faces the fear of the unknown,” he said as he explained that this realization has left very little room to feel sorry for himself. “I am lucky that I have a strong family unit, a job I love, and amazing friends.”

With regard to how he now handles adverse reactions to his condition, Kenny adds, “I would rather have people acknowledge the “difference,” then just stare or ignore. But if they do stare, or make a face, I just have to pardon them. Life is too good to worry about it.”

When asked how his life would change if he suddenly did not have ichthyosis, Kenny joked, “Well, I’d never be out of a speedo!”  But then he added, “I am absolutely okay with who I am. I am not mad at who I am anymore, no longer stuck. I feel good about what I do and I want to continue to do that. I don’t want to stop. I think the man upstairs has it all mapped out for me. Whatever time I do have here, I want to make the best of it…ichthyosis or no ichthyosis.”

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Elaine #

    Kenny ,that was a great story…very happy for you to be able to overcome your skin problem… I must say you were always a gentleman…also a great dancer and very sharp dresser…you always presented yourself well …….. yes, you owe some of that to your mom and brother,also the great friends that have not judged you for your problem, but most of all yourself, that you pulled your self through all this….GodBless You ! I want to wish you the best of everything, you surely deserve it….love ya, Elaine

    December 29, 2014
  2. liz adomanis #

    Kenny is an inspiration to all who know him.

    December 29, 2014
  3. Cindy #

    Some people go their whole life with out fulfillment
    I am glad you have finally found your nitch in life. Sadly some
    have no gratifying job, myself included. I am glad you are at a point
    where you are appreciated for the truly remarkable person you are.
    It was my pleasure growing up with you as a child along with your loving
    family.

    May 3, 2015
  4. Donna #

    Kenny,
    That was a remarkable story. I haven’t seen u in awhile. Glad to hear that you are doing great. I remember u always being over doug d’alfonso’s house. I was tiffany’s friend.

    December 30, 2015
  5. Kimberly #

    Proud of you for your strong positive attitude! We are blessed to call you our friend. Amazing man! Loved reading this story!

    December 30, 2015
  6. Donna #

    Kenny, I’m so glad to know you! You truly are an inspiration! Know that you are loved by so many by just being you! You are a very special, kind and caring person! Happy Hapoy New Year!

    December 30, 2015
  7. Danielle #

    Oh my dearest Kenny.. I can’t even imagine my life without you in it or even express how much I love you! I don’t even remember the first time we met! Youve always been such a big part of my life. You are the most strongest, caring, GIVING, loving, omg funniest make me pee myself over and over again person!!! You inspire me and everyone that loves you with your Courage to overcome your fears. You have NEVER nor will you EVER have to walk alone. You have so many people around you that love you! As I always say to you God couldnt have made you anymore PREFECT!! I Love you <3

    December 30, 2015
  8. Melissa #

    Kenny ,your a gift to the world with or without a condition.Your full of love ,faith,and confidence.Love you doll

    December 30, 2015
  9. Lisa Passero #

    Kenny is one of a kind. I have the pleasure and honor knowing him. Kenny keep doing what you do, you are the best.

    December 31, 2015
  10. Brian Clark #

    Good to hear Kenny is doing so well. I always remember Ken as having a good sense of humor about everything. I’m really happy for him.

    December 31, 2015
  11. Susan Lafferty Hawn #

    Kenny you are incredible and an inspiration to us all!! We love you!!

    December 31, 2015
  12. Dan Starkweather #

    I just watched Kenny and Bobbi on “Two in a Million’ on TLC. They are utterly amazing people. A true inspiration. I admire them both for their positive personalities and their upbeat spirits.

    April 28, 2016

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