A Tribute to Karen – Janelle Calhoun

Karen WyckoffAt the 15th Party in the Park, we honored the life of Karen Wyckoff who created Rein in Sarcoma and its signature event in July of 2001, a month before she died losing her battle to synovial sarcoma. One of her best friends and current RIS board member Janelle Calhoun remembered Karen during the opening program of the 2015 Party in the Park.

“What do Sandra Day O’Connor, Madeline Albright, Angela Merkel and Ruth Bader Ginsberg have in common? This is the caliber and scale of woman, I knew, Karen Wyckoff was to become. Karen was intelligent, snide where appropriate, and she always cared to make a difference in the living conditions of people.

She held a diverse, wide circle of friends, and brought people together for good work on community projects. Karen was always a community volunteer. As president of our Girl Scout troop, she led us to serve at a low income high-rise in St. Paul. She lead sports and scouting events for younger girls. Karen leveraged people’s strengths for good. She built people up, she educated, she connected, she championed, and she served. Under her guidance, respect was prevalent; she bridged gaps, and improved what she worked on.

Janelle Calhoun at Party in the ParkThis carried on through college, bringing the AIDS quilt to her campus, building coalitions to raise awareness, support and information on the disease. She organized and led alternative option spring breaks to work on homes of people in need. Later coming back to the Twin Cities and volunteering with Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Based in North Minneapolis she teamed to improve living conditions for people in our own back yard, making a difference for our citizens.

Fifteen years ago, a delayed diagnosis of Synovial Sarcoma caused this woman of integrity, spirit, humor, and intelligence to rally the wide circle of friends, form a plan, and take a stand.
We organized, gathered, rode the State Fair Carousel, and had a Party In The Park! Our mission was to raise not only funds, but awareness of a disease state friends had not heard of before, bring together patients, families, make connections, and make a difference for people to obliterate this connective tissue disease.
Since then, Mayo, Children’s, the U of M, Patients, and other Sarcoma groups have formed a network of information sharing, patient support and education.

You are a part of this now. Your strengths are needed more as we look to grow and partner. We have more patients, families, friends, physicians, research projects, and events. We have over 18 families with named commitments to support each other, educate and annihilate this disease state.

To each of you, help us grow. We need your skills and strengths.
On behalf of our friends, or family who are diagnosed, on behalf of lives with us, lives remembered, please give us your experience, connections, volunteer hours to provide more support, more patient notebooks, more education to health care professionals, more funding for research and increase public awareness. Together we will save lives.

You are our strength to reach further with insight and purpose. You are needed now.
Come, join our board, recruit or offer items in the silent auction, offer time, share the Red Flags video, march in a parade, talk to a friend, make connections and keep attending our Party in the Park!
Thank you for your heart, time and care.
Thank you, on behalf of one of many friends of patients, a member of the Red Flags Committee, and the RIS Board; may we work together, and make our world stronger.

To see Janelle’s complete remarks, click here.

To read and learn more about Karen, click here.