Kasey Kuker, Mayo Clinic education specialist, runner, singer
Rochester Magazine [breathless from running in]: Sorry. I’m like a half hour late. So were you just furious the whole time waiting for me?
Kasey Kuker: No, not at all.
RM: That doesn’t bother you?
KK: No. You did let me know.
RM: But still. I’m rarely late for stuff, either. Okay. How many Stormy Kromer caps do you own?
KK: That’s hilarious. I have one. It’s bright pink. And my mom used to work for Jacquart Fabric Products [in Ironwood, Mich.], So, yeah, she got to make the Kromers.
RM: That’s a cool factory. And a classic hat. You’re from the west side of the UP. Packers fan?
KK: My whole family is Packers fans. But I’m a Chiefs fan. Because of “KC.”
RM: You’ve been at Mayo for like 10 years. Do you like it?
KK: I love it.
RM: You’re an education specialist in the Division of Transfusion Medicine? Do you like the education part?
KK: I’m a rare extrovert in the introverted laboratory world, so anytime there were new employees or residents, fellows, or tours, I would jump on that. So now I work with people from all over the world every day. I teach residents and fellows about the tests and blood products that they order on the patients. So when to order tests, when to order products, inventory management.
RM: Best duet you’ve been part of?
KK: They are all great. Maybe I’ll have to go to my rock band, Night Shift. We do the Lita and Ozzy song “If I Close My Eyes Forever.”
RM: Actually, your answer’s wrong. It’s “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” with Sheriff Kevin Torgerson. I’m mostly saying that hoping I’ll get out of speeding tickets.
KK: That one definitely that takes the cake. That was so much fun.
RM: So how many states have you actually completed for your 50-states marathon club?
KK: Ooh, I just completed number 37, Colorado.
RM: That is crazy. It’s ridiculous.
KK: It is. I can’t disagree with you.
RM: When you did the first one, you were like, “Oh, yeah. I want to do more of these?”
KK: I crossed that finish line and it’s just a feeling that’s—it’s amazing. I can’t even describe it.
RM: I’ll never know that feeling.
KK: You could. It’s a lot of work, definitely. But it’s worth it.
RM: How many miles a week do you run?
KK: 40 to 50. I run more miles than I drive.
RM: You perform with like 10 bands. Night Shift, Branded: Hot Country, Les Fields and The Turkey River All-Stars. You play under the name Fernando Ufret …
KK: Wait a minute. I recall being in Night Shift and Branded: Hot Country, but not those others ... I do play a lot of other gigs.
RM: Do you remember your first time on stage?
KK: I was 16 and I was painfully shy. It was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I was a chorus member, so I was happy being in a big group of people.
RM: So what led to the complete 180 and the ability to project on stage now?
KK: It was through theater. I was in the high school show choir as the drummer and then got into theater more. I did Joseph when I was 16, and then I was in Footloose when I was 18. And just the theater environment, they’re so encouraging and uplifting. And they’re like, “Kasey, just do it. Just sing. Just give it a try.” So I started singing on stage.
RM: Okay. I’m going to butcher some names, and you tell me what you guys have in common. Carla Celeski, Freedom Hongisto, Julie Cox, Ang McPherson, Carrie Santini …
KK: We were in jazz band together.
RM: Yes! The Luther L. Wright High School Dixieland Combo of 2000.
KK: You’re digging way back.
RM: All of your Facebook reviews are five stars. Iron Ink Tattoos and Piercings.
RM: Mike’s Pastry.
KK: Oh. Boston. The best cannolis you’ll ever eat. Ever.
RM: Escape on 13th in Utah?
KK: That’s an escape room. I’m an escape room enthusiast, so when I travel for marathons, I try to find the best escape room in the city.
RM: How many have you been to?
KK: At least 50. I love puzzles.
RM: Best escape room you’ve ever been to?
KK: Hands down, there’s one in Las Vegas called The Basement. Instead of having TV screens with clues, they have live actors. It’s a scary theme. You are locked in the basement of this cannibalistic murderer. And there were like six rooms we had to crawl through. The actors in the room weren’t allowed to talk to you and you weren’t allowed to touch them. But they would bump into things that were clues, or knock things over, or moan and point at things. So it was really, really creepy, but definitely the best.
RM: Do you like scary movies?
KK: I love scary movies.
RM: What’s the scariest movie you ever saw?
KK: Probably The Ring.
RM: Nope. It’s The Exorcist.
KK: Oh well, that’s scary too.
RM: So, a run in the morning. Then teaching some residents about blood products. Then an escape room. Then a band gig. Then a terrifying movie.
KK: Yes. That covers it. I guess that would be my perfect day.