At Home With Bill & Amy Koman
Posted: Oct. 5, 2016
Although they have a home high above Rancho Santa Fe, Bill and Amy Koman are very down to earth. Surviving two bouts with cancer, as Bill did in his 40s, has shaped their outlook on life. Grateful for their access to quality health care here and in their native St. Louis, the couple founded Pedal the Cause, raising $20 million since 2010 for cancer research. “San Diego is a hub, probably one of the top two or three life science centers and research centers in the country,” says Bill, “so cures will definitely happen from here.”
This year, the Komans have partnered with the Padres and its CEO Mike Dee on the rechristened Padres Pedal the Cause, a cycling fundraiser and celebration on November 12-13. “Joining with the Padres is a huge step,” Bill says. “They’re used to hosting big events and it encourages a lot of San Diegans to come downtown and see how much [the event] has changed.” Billed as two “spectacular days of fun, fitness, food, and entertainment,” rides of 12 to more than 100 miles will begin and end at Petco Park. Participants can also pedal in the park on a spin bike or raise money as a virtual rider. Organizers hope to attract 1,500 riders this year, and eventually, 5,000 to 10,000 in the years to come. Given the region’s active lifestyles, Bill believes the Padres Pedal can become the biggest cycling fundraiser on the West Coast.
The event will fund innovative cancer research at four world-class research and treatment institutions: UC San Diego Health and the Moores Cancer Center, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, the Salk Institute, and Rady Children’s Hospital. “One of the cool things about adding Rady’s is people really do care about kids,” says Amy. “There’s such a lack of dollars that are given to cancer research for children. It’s 100 percent underwritten, so every single dollar goes directly to research.”
Bill’s own brush with cancer led the couple to give back. First diagnosed in 2004 with lymphoma, he underwent chemotherapy and radiation at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, but the cancer returned a year later. More treatments followed, including a bone marrow transplant. He has since been cancer-free. How did he get through it? “It was pretty much holistic for me — your faith, your family, being healthy, your lifestyle, and then, your attitude. You have to combine all those things.”
It was on a getaway to San Diego in 2006 after intensive treatment that the Komans found a new home here. “We were out smelling the lemons and the rosemary and the lavender,” Amy recalls. “The next thing you know, I was in the back of a realtor’s car looking at homes.” The couple summered in San Diego for several years before moving to Rancho Santa Fe in 2010.
Their Santa Barbara-style home was renovated recently with the help of New York interior designer Marshall Watson, with whom Amy has collaborated for 18 years, while Jan Solomon of Solomon Interior Design supported the project architecturally. The house is light and airy, filled with the couple’s collection of contemporary art. The Komans especially enjoy the outdoor spaces, where Amy works in the garden and where they often entertain poolside or by the fire pit. Bill fires up the grill, barbecuing fish and other healthy fare. Among his favorite rooms are the indoor gym and the sleek, contemporary wine room. Amy loves her chic office, decorated in soothing tones of grey with built-ins, faux leather chairs, and a custom desk, although she admits she does almost everything at the kitchen counter.
The active, health-conscious Komans “were like kids in a candy shop” when they moved to San Diego. “All the healthy things we had to search for in the Midwest were right here,” Amy recalls. It was she who first encouraged Bill to go to yoga classes at a Solana Beach studio. “We went for a free week,” she says. The couple liked it so much, they eventually bought the place, opening Yoga Six, a string of 13 studios in six cities, including four locations in San Diego County (Carlsbad, 4S Ranch, Point Loma, and Solana Beach). They have also invested in Del Mar’s Beaming, an “organic superfood café” offering cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and raw food.
The Komans teach what they practice, encouraging their teenage daughters to lead healthy lives and help their communities. The teenagers take part in Pedal the Cause each year, this year riding in honor of a student at La Jolla Country Day who, like their dad, battled lymphoma. “For us, it’s how you engage life,” says Bill. “It’s our belief that you give back.”
Raising funds for cancer research is the Komans’ way of giving back. Bill is hopeful that a cure for cancer is on the horizon. “Advances are starting to happen in sequencing that are based here — personalized medicine and immunotherapy,” says Bill. “Maybe we will have a shot at knocking out a number of cancers over the next generation so that kids don’t have to go through what their parents or grandparents went through.” gopedal.org Andrea Naversen