NATAPAC Honors Chuck Kimmel

June 27, 2024 by Kristin Carroll
NATAPAC Honors Chuck Kimmel

The annual fundraiser for the NATA Political Action Committee had become a can’t miss event at convention. For the 75th NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo, this event featured two firsts: A move from breakfast to lunch and renaming to the Chuck Kimmel Memorial NATAPAC Lunch.

The lunch began with remarks from Outgoing NATAPAC Board Chair Mark Letendre, ATC, who welcomed attendees and extended his thanks to those who have contributed throughout the year. He also applauded those who sponsored tickets for the event, allowing 70 students and early professionals to attend.

NATA President Kathy Dieringer, EdD, LAT, ATC, shared some of the highlights from NATAPAC’s 2024 efforts so far. Currently, NATAPAC is tracking more than 100 bills and has endorsed 12 bills that will enhance and further the athletic training profession.

Past District 9 Director Marisa Brunett waves a drum stick before her NATAPAC keynote honoring Chuck Kimmel

NATA Hall of Fame member and former District Nine Director Marisa Brunett, MS, LAT, ATC, delivered the keynote address, which honored the late Chuck Kimmel, NATA’s 10th president.

Brunett walked onto the stage to the Foo Fighters’ song “Times Like These,” waving a drumstick Kimmel once received at a concert. Brunett’s speech highlighted Kimmel’s contributions to NATA and the NATAPAC.

Kimmel, she said, is remembered as an empathetic person and a great communicator. He put in “tireless effort” to advance the athletic training profession. Brunett said her relationship with Kimmel began as a friendship and mentorship, but he quickly became family. The two were avid fans of the Hard Rock Café and collected pins from the restaurant in the cities they visited together.

“Climb, strive. The mountain is steep, but we can get to the top,” Brunett said, encouraging the audience. “[Kimmel] believed change would come, but it won’t come without us.”

Brunett said Kimmel was a prolific note writer, addressing ATs that volunteered and went above and beyond for the profession. Many in attendance raised their hands to say they had been a recipient of one of those notes.

Those notes were often filled with “Chuck’s free advice,” Brunett said. Some of those sayings include:

  • You should be able to cuss and discuss.
  • Involve and evolve.
  • Win with humility, lose with grace.
  • People who resist change fear loss.
  • You will make mistakes. Own them and move on.

Brunett further reflected on Kimmel’s contributions to NATA and the profession. NATAPAC was Kimmel’s brainchild. When he received the call in 2003 that he was elected NATA’s 10th president, he called past NATA Executive Director Eve Becker Doyle to outline his vision for the profession to have a voice in Washington, D.C., Brunett said.

NATA moved quickly and hired its first lobbyist before Kimmel even assumed office. NATA’s first Hit the Hill Day was Kimmel’s first official day as NATA president.

Brunett said there were challenges as Kimmel, the NATA Board of Directors and others advocated for change and a seat at the table. Kimmel refused to be silenced or sidelined in his quest for more recognition of the profession. He would become the first AT to attend and be quoted at a Congressional hearing.

Kimmel also worked to have meetings with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Though the relationship between NATA and APTA could be rocky at times, Brunett said, Kimmel’s efforts culminated in 2019 when Past NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC, and Past APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, shared a stage discussing the relationship. In 2021, the NATA and APTA released a joint Policy Principles document to promote athlete care and recovery.

Brunett challenged attendees to keep Kimmel’s legacy alive by joining the “625 Club,” where members commit to a monthly donation of $6.25 or more. This amount adds up to $75, perfect for commemorating the NATA convention’s 75th anniversary and NATA’s 75th anniversary coming in 2025.

“Stand up and be counted,” Brunett said. “We have big goals and it will challenging to accomplish them with a PAC in the low six figures.”

Kimmel was fond of saying that he was planting seeds to trees that others would enjoy. Brunett encouraged attendees to sow their own seeds and plant more trees in Kimmel’s memory.