Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an inherited autosomal recessive disease that affects most people who have it when they are infants or children. However, there is a small percentage of people with CF who are diagnosed in adulthood. This is Kari's CF story:
Kari (Townsend) Lempka is an Air Force veteran, mother of three, and lives with her husband, Scott, and their family in Elk River, Minnesota. She works within her community as senior secretary at Zimmerman Elementary School. Her life has been one of joy, health, love, growth, community, physical activity, and service to others.
The year Kari turned 40 years old, she began experiencing repeated bouts of severe pancreatitis that landed her in the hospital four times in a little over a year. This time period was a major challenge for Kari physically, emotionally, and spiritually. At the age when most adult's lives and careers are taking off, Kari felt like hers was closing in. How could she keep working and caring for her family when she was so sick? She would go days without eating, her energy was low, and she felt like there was little hope. She and her family prayed for answers... One day a blood draw revealed a genetic question that brought her to meet with a geneticist. Finally, 18 months after her first attack of pancreatitis, multiple procedures, a surgery, and many days in bed, doctors at the University of Minnesota diagnosed Kari with Cystic Fibrosis using genetic testing.
It was at this point the light started to shine. The CF Clinic at the U of MN had an amazing support system and their doctors said, "We can help you here!" What wonderful words! The doctors prescribed medications that made major improvements in her daily physical functioning. Kari started to feel a little more normal again! A few months later while at her college reunion, Kari learned her college roommate had been running the Lost Lake Run (in Seward, Alaska) fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for the last many years! When she heard about this race, Kari knew she had to get involved. Her current daily routine and quality of life have been so positively impacted by the many medications that have been developed through donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She is excited to not only be the face of Team Kari, but to also be a member of the team running in August 2019! Kari’s desire is to not let this diagnosis define who she is, but to continue to fight for good health and to pay it forward.
While Cystic Fibrosis continues to impact thousands of people worldwide, recent advancements in research and treatment have opened up new, more effective methods of treatment and have put the possibility of a cure for this disease within reach. Imagine being able to successfully treat and cure cystic fibrosis! By pledging to support Team Kari, you are helping to advance treatment for Kari and thousands like her. Please join us in raising funds to support the many children and adults with Cystic Fibrosis…and ultimately to find a cure.