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Brother and sister duo looking to make an impact in their new city

Jonathan Roberts • Sep 8, 2019 at 6:55 PM

Though they’ve only been in Johnson City for a year, Julia and Tommy Gilmore are already looking to make an impact on their community — despite neither being old enough to even drive a car.

“You try to teach your kids to give back to the community, and that’s always been important for our family,” the duo’s mother, Cindy Gilmore said. “Of course, I couldn’t be more proud of her, and Tommy is doing his own thing too at Indian Trail (Intermediate School).”

Among the pairs biggest projects are Julia Gilmore’s “Project Legoland,” which aims to provide St. Jude’s children with $5,000 worth of toys for them to play with. Since she began fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s in 2013, she’s raised more than $15,000 and donated over 500 toys.

“I want to help other kids who are in my situation, and I love helping kids,” Gilmore, 14, said. “I thought, ‘what’s a better way than to be at St. Jude.’”

When she was an infant and toddler, Julia Gilmore spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals. Her mother recounted that, at just 18 months old, her daughter suffered from “debilitating migraines,” and that doctors initially thought she might have a brain tumor.

Eventually, doctors discovered she has a chemical intolerance for anything containing artificial ingredients, and not brain cancer. Still, the experience left a mark on Julia Gilmore’s still developing brain, which is why the 14-year-old Science Hill High School freshman has dedicated herself to helping other children.

Through her community service, she’s been named Miss Volunteer State 2019, and won Miss Royal International Role Model JR Teen 2019-20.

“It’s definitely hard work paid off,” Julia Gilmore said. “Within the past five years, with all the community service I’ve done, it’s kind of rewarding to get that recognition.”

Her younger brother, 11-year-old Tommy Gilmore, is also looking to make a difference in his community.

At Indian Trail, he’s hoping to start some new initiatives to combat bullying and help kids make friends a little bit easier, though he wants to keep some of the details private for now, until he gets approval from the school. Regardless, his enthusiasm is hard to understate. 

“I really wanted to do (this),” he said. “I didn’t make a lot of friends at first, so I want kids that move from different states or in the middle of the year, let’s say, to make friends faster so they can have a better experience in school.”

Their mother, who has another daughter at studying at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, said she feels “lucky.”

“I got lucky,” she quipped. “I have good kids.”

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