Uniquely Baton Rouge: Local radio personality doubles as Santa Claus, spreading cheer through personal cancer diagnosis

For years, James Gilmore has graced the airwaves on Guaranty Media’s Tiger 100.7 FM, but it wasn’t until after his Stage 4 kidney cancer diagnosis in March 2016 that he started to see his purpose differently.

“All through life you never really think well there’s an end” Gilmore said. “But after you kind of get that awakening, then you realize that end may be closer than you think” he said.

Gilmore continued working through his diagnosis, introducing us to some of the country’s biggest stars. But after awhile you could start to see the side effects of his cancer treatments.

“At the beginning I thought it was a harsh thing” Gilmore said. “It turned my hair all white, my skin all pale, I didn’t like it. It made me feel like I was 100 years old… but one of my fellow employees made a Santa Claus joke and it was like this light bulb went off” he said.

Making eggnog from the eggs life handed to him, Gilmore embraced the natural Santa Claus look that was spawned by his cancer treatments. Now he uses his new look to spread Christmas cheer to kids around the Capital City around the holidays.

“The question that most of the kids will ask is are you the real Santa and I’ll tell them to pull on it and it is real” Gilmore said. And when they can actually put their hands on it and there seems to be no faking this, then the magic seems to be a little bit bigger” he said.

For Gilmore though, the magic works both ways.

“Being around a kid is going to make you feel like a kid and when you feel like a kid you don’t feel the adult issues that come with a sickness or everyday problems” Gilmore said. “When you feel like a kid your world is wide open”.

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