Menomonee Falls Family Walks for Cure
Thousands of people will hit Milwaukee’s lakefront on Sunday for the Race for the Cure. The Susan G. Komen event raises money for breast cancer research.
Survivors will celebrate. Others will fulfill a legacy of a loved one gone too soon. The Karpinski family of Menomonee Falls is one of those families.
Julie Karpinski was full of life. She was a wonderful wife to Todd, a loving mother to Luke and Eli, a dedicated educator at Concordia University, and a pharmacist at Froedtert. Doctors diagnosed her with stage 2 breast cancer in 2009. She was just 33 years old.
"She never one day complained,” Todd said. “She never said, why me?”
Four years later, and after numerous treatments, the family learned her breast cancer had advanced. In 2012, they got the devastating news it was now stage 4.
"We weren't sure if it was going to be six months or a year. She made it a couple years which is great. But you just try to take all the life you can get out and enjoy all the fun,” Todd explained.
Julie kept an active lifestyle. She loved playing games with her boys.
She also volunteered for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a group committed to ending breast cancer. Julie understood the importance of giving back and working to find a cure. She said it herself during a video produced for the race back in 2013.
"I need it to happen very soon in my battle against breast cancer. They give me hope that I will be there for a long time for my children,” she said.
Holding on to that hope helped during her fight, but there's no cure just yet. Julie lost her battle with breast cancer a year ago this month.
"Losing a spouse at 39 is tough and no one should ever lose a mom, but it happens to a lot of people. So we just try to do our best to give a little bit back and enjoy the days we had with her," Todd said.
One of the ways the family gives back is through Race for the Cure. Julie participated for years before she died. She walked and raised money. She’s seen in the 2013 Komen video explaining what the race meant to her.
"The race is extremely important in the fight. In one word to me, it's hope. It’s looking for that cure. It's funding the research that's going to find new treatments and help prolong lives,” she said.
Todd, Luke, and Eli were right by her side during those races.
“(We’re) Team Fight Like A Girl,” the boys explained.
The back of their pink shirts have a printed ribbon with Julie’s name on it. They walked last year too just weeks after she died.
“It's just an amazing feeling to see all of those people and all that energy that's there that morning. It truly is a great expression of the goodness in people," Todd said.
Race for the Cure is now a family tradition in the Karpinski house. The three are proud to participate again this year and they'll be thinking about Julie every step of the way.
"There's not a day that passes that we don't think about Mom, but this year, will be more of a celebration of her life and all the greatness that she brought," Todd said.
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure starts at 9:00 AM Sunday outside the Milwaukee Art Museum. You can register early online or on site on race day.