My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

My community – Karen Walsh

on September 27, 2013

Karen Walsh is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I first met her in July 2012 when I did my first 5k race. It was her race, the one she organizes in memory of her son.

Karen, a transplant from England, met her husband Craig while visiting the area in 2003. After going back and forth for a few years, she finally moved to Belleville in 2010 when she was pregnant with her son, Reece. Reece was born July 20, 2010, on her daughter Daisy’s 3rd birthday. Almost immediately, they noticed something was wrong. Reece seemed to have very low muscle tone, he was sort of “floppy”. After several tests and waiting more than a month, the results finally came in — Reece had Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA. Karen and her family had never heard of it before. SMA is caused by a genetic defect, and is the most common genetic cause of infant death. There is currently no cure for it. Reece was just 7 weeks old when he passed away. After her son’s diagnosis, Karen and her husband were both tested and it was discovered that both are carriers of the gene, although neither has the disease. It is estimated that approximately 1-in-40 people is a carrier of the gene; and approximately 1-in-6000 babies is born with the disease. And yet, it is not very well known. You can visit http://www.curesma.org/ to get more information. I, personally, had never heard of it until I met Karen.

After Reece’s death, Karen felt like she needed to do something. Something to bring awareness to the disease. Something to help raise money. Karen is an avid runner, so it seemed natural to her to organize a race. She decided to hold it in July, around Reece’s birthday, each year. She got in touch with The Running Room, who helped her with the organization of it. The monies raised are divided equally between the pediatric ward of Belleville General Hospital, and Families of SMA Canada. In the three years the race has been run, nearly $12,000 has been raised. The first year of the race, there was 44 racers; this year, it’s third, there was 73. She plans on organizing the race for years to come, and hopes it will continue to grow.

I met Karen at the second race. It was my very first race ever. When I heard her story, I was amazed. We’ve become good friends since then. When I was given the task to find the good things in our community, my first thought was Karen. Karen has taken something very sad and very personal, and is turning it into something positive.  If you would like more information on SMA or the Run for Reece, you can contact Karen at Karenwalsh62@hotmail.com

karen

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