FOUNDER'S STORY / rooted in strength
Meet Catherine "Kat" Leibbrandt - a true overcomer and the taproot to IamMore® Foundation. It is from her that IamMore grows from and finds its inspirations.
In 2012, as a 21-year-old Division 1 athlete, Kat was diagnosed with an aneurysm and Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease. These diagnoses and the consequences of her physical limitations were dream shattering to say the least. However, Kat's positivity prevailed, leaving her faith in the Lord deepened and her relationship with Christ strengthened.
The Athletic Department at the University of South Florida (USF) and the USF Women's Soccer coaches and team rallied around Kat. With the unconditional support of her family, friends, and, most importantly, her athletic trainer, Michele Latimer, Kat was able to complete her career at USF. She continued to play valuable minutes, helping the USF Bulls notch winning seasons and continuing on to advance to conference tournament semifinal appearances. Upon graduating in December 2013, she finished her career as the only person in history to play Division 1 College soccer with MG.
After her experience and witnessing the love of the USF coaches, staff, teammates, fellow athletes, the student body, and fans, she believed it was her duty to share that love with others. It was in Kat's own experience that she discovered the power of self-image and how uplifting or detrimental it could be while living in a medically vulnerable state. It is her belief that one of the reasons she was able to withstand her daily battles and continued to beat the odds was because she chose to be defined by her deep faith, self worth, and passion for soccer, rather than her diagnosis. This compelled her to start a non-profit foundation where children and individuals who suffer from illness or disability can pursue their love of sports or the arts, helping them to be identified by their passions rather than their affliction. In 2013, Kat, along with her close friend, John Ryan Murphy, her mother, Leslie, and sister, Gabby, started IamMore® Foundation.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly
about my weaknesses, so that
Christ's power may rest on me.
LEARN MORE ABOUT KAT'S STORY >>
2 Corinthians 12:9
JOHN RYAN MURPHY / the heart
John Ryan was born and raised in Bradenton, FL attending the prestigious IMG Academy to play baseball, but for our case, most importantly, that is where he met Kat. They became friends instantly, but that was only the beginning.
John Ryan was an active member in his middle school youth group, and served as a Teen Leader, a role he accepted and served throughout high school. In 2009, through incredible hard work and dedication to his passion, John Ryan was blessed with the opportunity to join the New York Yankees organization and begin his professional baseball career. Spending the next five years in the minors, Murphy made his Major League debut September 2, 2013 and rejoined the team April 15, 2014.
In July of 2017, John Ryan was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. As a member of both organizations, he is actively involved in the weekly team bible studies and Chapel. At every level he has played, John Ryan has been known to be the first one to commit and participate in the numerous volunteer opportunities that are available.
He is also a member of the board for the Where Love Grows Foundation. In the off season, he helps them with serving meals to the Boys and Girls Clubs in Tampa.
John Ryan’s value far exceeds his ability to swing a bat and receive behind the plate. For Kat, he is an oasis.
Upon his return to Tampa during his stint in Single A, they rebuilt their friendship on their own personal relationships with Christ. He attended church with her weekly, often driving an hour from Bradenton to Tampa, to pick Kat up just in time for a stop at Starbucks before worship. He was and is Kat’s rock. While navigating the challenges that accompany the diagnosis of a chronic disease and medical uncertainties, John Ryan is a foundation of strength and a shoulder to lean on.
John Ryan is immeasurably more.
GABBY LEIBBRANDT / the courage
A sister to Kat by blood and dearest friend by choice… Gabby has the uncanny ability to bring joy to others, especially children.
Growing up, Gabby was a competitive swimmer and successful student. Graduating Valedictorian from high school she continued her education at Florida State University, where the greatest memories of her college years were created during her summers living in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was there she first began her career as an ocean lifeguard and learned the true meaning of living simplistically, and appreciating much. Embracing the culture of the area that seems to entrance all who visit, Gabby built her relationship with God walking the sand dunes of Duck and Southern Shores and watching the wild mustangs of Currituck.
In 2011, Gabby graduated from FSU, magna cum laude with a degree in Recreation and Leisure Services Administration. She has lived in San Diego California; and worked as a swim coach, and as an EMT and Lifeguard for Encinitas Ocean Rescue and Solana Beach Junior Guards. Currently Gabby is pursuing her Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy at Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ.
Although she lives across the country, her selfless heart was never far from Tampa, Florida. She takes an active part in Kat’s medical care, even taking time off from work to fly in for medical tests and doctor’s visits whenever possible.
Her creativity knows no bounds and her love of children is awe-inspiring. It is because of these qualities, as well as many, many more, that Gabby is the West Coast Representative for IamMore® Foundation.
Gabby is immeasurably more.
LESLIE LEIBBRANDT / the brain
Formally her name is Leslie, but due to the fact that her nurturing heart is so evident to everyone she comes in contact with, she is better known as “Momma Leslie”… and to those nearest and dearest to her, she goes by “Maverick”. Although this organization is inspired by the Kat’s medical experiences and subsequent recovery, Kat’s quest and daily mission of service is inspired by the unconditional love of her mother.
Leslie was born and raised in Murray, Kentucky, but had an untamable spirit which took her to amazing places around the world. It is these same experiences, in addition to her wholesome, Christ-centered upbringing that laid the foundation for all that IamMore stands for:faith, hope, love, passion, equality, the power of belief and the power of potential.
Maverick is a key part of the organization, as well as the lives of all of those involved. While managing IamMore® Foundation headquarters in Florida, Leslie works behind the scenes with logistics, administration, project development and follow through.
Leslie is immeasurably more.