On Saturday, April 14, Juri Kameda jumped out of a plane to raise awareness and money and for the ALS Therapy Development Institute. Juri is a friend of JAMsj and her beautiful jewelry is sold in the museum’s store. JAMsj President Aggie Idemoto interviewed Juri before her jump.
Juri Kameda Conquers All Odds and Lives Life to the Fullest
By Aggie Idemoto
Japan-born Juri Kameda immigrated to the U.S. and her life has since been one of transitions. Her most recent career change as a jeweler connected her to JAMsj.
Juri attended Japanese and Catholic schools in Japan until the fifth grade, when she transitioned to an American education. This change meant a shift in educational methodology and expectations, as well as languages. Juri is fluent in Japanese, English, Spanish and has a conversational grasp of Mandarin. With her diverse language skills, she aspired to work with the United Nations, but her parents steered her toward a career in medicine or technology. “There’s no money working for a non-profit,” they cautioned.
After studying at Foothill Community College and U.C. San Diego with a major in cognitive science, Juri began her career as a certified respiratory care practitioner. She then moved into the technology world as a simultaneous translator. When her 2-year-old son started violin lessons and needed larger violins as he grew up, Juri began to make his violins herself. These experiences lead to her position with the Kamimoto String Instruments shop in Japantown, making and repairing violins and cellos.
In her spare time, Juri plays the flute, and for the past ten years has been an avid abalone diver. She and her husband, Ken, are world travelers, making one major trip every two years.
In 2005, she experienced the biggest transition of her life when she was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This neurological disease causes muscle weakness, disability, and eventually death. There is no known cure. The news struck a devastating blow, but did not crimp any plans for Juri.
During a trip to Helsinki three years ago, she discovered and was enthralled by a unique form of glass jewelry, which instantly inspired her to go into the making of glass jewelry. Her disability requires the assistance of a wheel chair, respirator, and service dog, but Juri has use of three fingers in both hands and puts her creative outlet, energy, and vitality for living into each of her hand-crafted creations.
A jeweler for over a year, her creations are featured in the JAMsj store. She contributes 5% of her proceeds to ALS Guardian Angels.
When asked what message she wants to shout out to others, she did not hesitate with the following: “Live life like there’s no tomorrow. Live for the moment and don’t dwell on the unknown.” Juri Kameda is a truly inspiring role model for all of us.
On Saturday, Juri Kameda and her friend, Gloria Hale, a San Jose resident who is also diagnosed with ALS, made the jump to raise awareness for the disease. To make a donation in support of Juri Kameda , Gloria Hale, and the ALS Therapy Development Institute, go to http://community.als.net/skydiveforYFALS.