New York City 5K Walk/Run
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize Karen Karl as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2016 MMRF Team for Cures: New York City 5K Walk/Run.
Posted September 2016
Karen Karl’s involvement with the MMRF started with the amazing Laugh for Life Fundraiser, which was started as a grass roots event, and 15 years later, now raises over $800,000 for critical myeloma research. Karen met the inspiring Laugh women, Cindi Stern, Carol Goldschein (also a myeloma patient), and Sue Korn, and their initial connection led to a close friendship. While simultaneously becoming more involved in Laugh for Life, Karen heard of an event happening right across the street from her apartment. Eric Gelber, an ultra-marathoner, was having an event called, 200 Miles Towards a Cure in Central Park. Over the course of 3 days, Eric attempted to cover 200 miles around Central Park while hundreds of everyday runners, patients, and caregivers joined him. From this event alone, he raised over $230,000 for the MMRF. Karen felt inspired by both Laugh and 200 Miles, and truly felt that the MMRF was reaching out to her when she needed them the most.
While Karen was feeling inspired by these incredible events, those around her were feeling inspired by her.
“Karen is the oldest of three sisters. She has always been an inspiration to us with her engaging personality, intelligence and humor. When Karen was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, she had fierce determination, hope and positivity to find the best treatment option and plan for her. She has maintained her strong and humorous persona throughout her various treatments, and continues to do, inspiring all who know her.” Said Susan, Karen’s sister.
Cindi, one of the Laugh founders, believes Karen is a force to be reckoned with.
“I have known and been close to Karen for several years. She inspires me because she does not live in denial of her cancer. She knows there is no cure, but also recognizes that it’s now become treatable thanks to the work of the MMRF and for that, always does whatever she can to raise awareness, raise research money, or just make someone else feel better about themselves, never needing to tell others what she will or has done- she does it in her own way.”
Karen’s two children have taken an interest in helping as well. They volunteer their time every year at Laugh for Life and brought their posse to the New York City 5K in 2015. One of the most exciting things that has happened to Karen in the past 7 years was when her daughter surprised her by running the New York City Half Marathon with the MMRF team. She raised thousands of dollars from every corner of the world. She received matching funds and wowed her family by running from Harlem to Wall Street and making great time! All of this support gives Karen hope and empowers her throughout this journey.
“Many people have saved my life these past few years. My sisters who donate every single thing (and their children and spouses), my husband who has lifted me, funded me and supported me even when I don’t deserve it, and my five nut friend, Melissa Delisser, who has given a small piece of her life to everyday of my life; flying to NJ for the head shave, cleaning the apartment, cooking with kale, and unrelated support. And of course, the Chicas. Eight women who have shown up… who have been there, sung to me, encouraged me and prayed for me, and who are as constant as the stars. They have sung ‘We like it, put a wig on it’ (in all black tights), better than Beyonce.”
Susan adds, “Since Karen’s diagnosis in late 2009, there have been (many) challenges and (crazy) obstacles along the way. However, she has always persevered — for herself, her children, her dear friends, and her family. We have all followed her leadership and have supported her every step of the way.”
There is no need to ask Karen why her team name is Warriors. “We just are. We are a team, held together by love, respect, hope, and devotion.”
Karen is amazed that both of her heroes, Dr. Siegel and Dr. Chari are chairing this event. “They are total rock stars! They saved my life.”
It appears that these feelings are mutual. Karen’s husband, Ken, believes that along with her doctors, it’s Karen’s attitude that has led to her spectacular results.
“The drug trial that Karen has been involved with has had spectacular results, but I’m sure that without Karen’s internal strength and terrific sense of humor – the drug trial would not have had the amazing success it has so far achieved. Karen has a very unique way of engaging conversation directly with her doctors & nurses that puts a smile on their faces (even laughter) and is able to get them to clearly explain her current medical situation and answer any questions Karen might have related to MM and the treatment she is undergoing. Unlike some people, who tend to internalize their feelings dealing with MM, Karen loves to talk about her disease with other people who have MM and with the entire MMRF community, sharing her own experience and thoughts to help advance the push for a cure.”
Ken adds, “Karen’s inner strength, sense of humor, and willingness to openly discuss her disease with others is most inspiring.”
Karen is very excited to be receiving this award, “I actually feel I am a spirit of hope. I am honored and awed to accept this award. I will never give up hope!”
The MMRF works tirelessly to find a cure to extend the lives of patients, just like Karen, and is proud to honor Karen Karl as the 2016 recipient of the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award, given at every MMRF 5K Walk/Run event to a person or team who inspires hope and shows extraordinary commitment to the MMRF. Karen Karl has touched the myeloma community with her strength of character, her kindness, and her embodiment of hope.