December Volunteer of the Month: Karen Ickes

When Karen Ickes was diagnosed with breast cancer 17 years ago, she knew right away she wanted to use her experience and breast cancer battle to help educate others. We are fortunate to have had Karen as a volunteer with Susan G. Komen Columbus for the last 16 years and are grateful for the many contributions she has made.

Karen at the 1999 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure with her chemo nurse, Tammy and the daughter of a friend .
Karen (center) at the 1999 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure with her chemo nurse, Tammy, and the daughter of a friend .

“From helping with Race registration, to being part of the Education Committee, from attending health fairs and to more recently helping to review grant applications – Karen’s insight and generosity are a tremendous asset to our organization,” said Natalie Guagenti, Director of Volunteers at Komen Columbus.

For these reasons and more, we are proud to name Karen Ickes as our December Volunteer of the Month!

Karen shares with us, in her own words, why she enjoys volunteering with Komen Columbus.

What (or whom) inspired you to get involved with Komen Columbus?
On April Fool’s Day in 1997 I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. After going through one year of high dose chemo, a stem cell transplant and radiation, I wanted to find a way to get involved with an organization which would work towards finding a way to cure the disease and help educate other women about the importance of getting the proper testing and understanding changes in your body. Through Komen Columbus, I’ve met some wonderful survivors and volunteers and staff, all of whom are dedicated to the same mission and purpose.

What’s your favorite part about volunteering with Komen Columbus?
My favorite part about volunteering is when I can help just one person learn more about detection and the importance of working with your doctor. During a recent health fair, we had so many people stop by our booth with very little knowledge or understanding of breast cancer. The pamphlets and brochures provide a lot of good information in a simple and easy to understand fashion.

What is the most memorable moment or event you’ve experienced with Komen Columbus? And why?
Every time I go to the Race and see all of the survivors, along with the tremendous support from the community, it creates a memorable event for me. It is such a wonderfully positive experience with so much camaraderie and celebration.

When you’re not volunteering for Komen Columbus, what do you like to do?
I’ve been retired for a couple of years and I have enjoyed spending more time trying to improve my golf game, traveling and getting involved in a variety of community philanthropic activities.