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Climb for the Kids–To the Top of Pike’s Peak

Abuse Survivor Takes on a Colorado Mountain Marathon for Safe Connections

Karolina is a healthy, happy 26-year-old student of psychology. She is a running enthusiast who greatly enjoys spending time with her extended family, especially her little niece and nephew. Karolina is also a survivor of almost two decades of chaos and abuse. She wants kids in St. Louis to know that whether the violence is happening at home or when they take their first steps out into the dating world, she has been there. She wants kids and teens to know they aren’t alone.

This Sunday, Karolina is running 13.5 miles to the summit of Pike’s Peak. Then she is turning around and running another 13.5 miles back down to cross the finish line. All of this sweat and toil is to raise awareness and support for kids who don’t know what a safe, happy childhood is.

Going the Distance

The Pike’s Peak trek is grueling for a trained runner in ideal health, and Karolina’s health isn’t in that category. She is recovering from a recent knee surgery, a repair of a torn meniscus. Having already committed to the Climb for the Kids at the time of her injury, she isn’t backing down.

“If I’m struggling, I’ll think of the kids,” said Karolina. “It’s not about me, it’s about who we are helping. There is a team waiting for me at the finish line to celebrate. That will keep me motivated too.” 

To make her vision a reality, she trains daily with her team, which now includes her physical therapist. This Sunday, Karolina will find out if all the training has been enough. She will run her marathon this Sunday.

Karolina is encouraging people to donate to Safe Connections to support her run. As a child growing up in Lithuania, Karolina regularly witnessed her mother’s abuse at the hands of her father, who doted on his daughter. Karolina’s mother regularly abused her in retaliation. As part of an ongoing healing process that began when Karolina was 19 and came to the USA, she worked with a therapist, read a slew of self-help books, and took up running. She has some words of support to share with children and teens who live in violent homes.

“You have to know that it’s not okay, and it’s not your fault, no matter what you are told. You don’t have to have the same life as your family. You hold your own key. Read a lot. Do the work to change and heal when you can. It will pay off. You CAN have a healthy life.” To adults who are still struggling with the abuse they endured in their childhood she says, “It’s hard to trust. It’s hard to let people in, believe me, I know. But if you do the work and go through the healing process, it’s worth it.”

This the third annual Climb for the Kids is produced by Ryan Kelley The Home Loan Expert. Thanks to Karolina and Ryan, this is the first year that you are being encouraged to support the work of Safe Connections in providing free mental health therapy to teen survivors and violence prevention education to middle and high school students throughout St. Louis. Please donate to honor Karolina and the kids and teens still living in fear.