It’s four months away, but Karen Kerbis and her family are already taking steps for the JDRF One Walk in San Francisco. The Kerbis family has been participating in the Walk since 1996, when their son Adam was diagnosed with T1D at the age of six. “We formed ‘The A Team’ to honor Adam. We support the Walk because in addition to it being fun, it gives us a feeling of empowerment – like we’re not alone in this battle,” Karen says. “For us, it’s our opportunity to make the biggest impact on behalf of JDRF. We also know it’s a great way to raise funds for research. Fundraising is crucial to help support research and advocacy to help ease the daily strain for those with T1D and their families.”
The first couple of years, “The A Team” walked as a family, including Karen, Adam’s sister Stephanie, and father Richard. The team steadily increased each year as Adam’s friends got involved. Soon, Richard invited his company to join in and the team grew to as many as 60 walkers. In 2003, the Kerbis family dog Brownie joined the team and walks with them each year. Since 1996, The A Team has raised close to $100,000.
Fundraising is important to Karen and her family but so is the sense of community that comes from participating.
“There’s nothing like Walk Day. The Walk has always represented a camaraderie, pride and accomplishment towards a common goal – helping fund research for a cure,” Karen says.
Walk Day is a special date on the calendar each year for the Kerbis family. “It’s the one day each year when Adam is not alone – in addition to being surrounded by his closest friends, he is joined by thousands of others sharing the same goal and experiencing the same daily struggles as him, ” Karen says.
Before moving to Napa in 2012, Karen served as Walk Chair in the Chicago area for 13 years. “I had an amazing committee and Walk manager, and we worked together for many years so we were like family,” she says. Now she plans to draw on that experience to develop a strong, committed team in the Bay Area to help carry the new JDRF One Walk program forward.
Today Karen is serving as Co-VP of Walk on the JDRF Bay Area Executive Board and Chief Event Champion for the 2014 One Walk. “I’m excited and honored to help carry out the mission of JDRF by ensuring that our One Walk is not only fun, but focused on raising critical funds to support the great work JDRF does. As Co-VP of Walk, I’ll be the liaison and mouthpiece to the board on behalf of the San Francisco and East Bay walks, assuring we have everything we need to make these events successful. I feel so fortunate to be part of the pilot this year and participate in what I believe will be a ground-breaking new walk program.”
Adam is about to turn 24. He graduated early and with honors from Northwestern University, got a great job, and is now living on his own in San Francisco. He is also serving on Karen’s Walk committee this year. “As his mom, I couldn’t be more proud. But his story is far from over,” says Karen. “I’m very optimistic that within Adam’s lifetime, JDRF will be the organization to support the research that finds the cure to turn Type One into Type None and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!”