Support Connection is delighted to introduce the Andrea Karl Amazing Grace Award at our 2023 Spring Benefit loving memory of a Peer Counselor who left behind a legacy of amazing grace.
To have had the pleasure of knowing Andrea Karl was a gift. Her amazing laugh, caring and understanding heart shone through in all she did, instantly creating a bond with the Support Connection staff, volunteers and the people with breast, ovarian or gynecological cancer who turned to her for support. Andrea was passionate about giving women and their families a safe place to turn to as they navigated a cancer journey.
In March of 2003, Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer. In her own words, “…no family history of breast cancer, no clue where it came from, why I had it or what to do about it. I was thrown into a world I knew nothing about.”
Six months earlier, she had learned about Support Connection’s services when she participated in our annual Support-A-Walk. Shortly after she heard the words “you have breast cancer,” Andrea called Support Connection and spoke to Maria, a Peer Counselor. Andrea clearly remembers, “Maria listened and understood. She had heard the same words. She had been just as scared.” Andrea found the support she received gave her what she needed: someone to listen and understand, a resource and a number to call when she needed someone to talk to. Andrea didn’t forget how valuable the support was and so, she became a volunteer.
It soon became evident that Andrea would make a great Peer Counselor. Andrea was passionate about her work and helped thousands of women in her 16 years as a Peer Counselor for Support Connection. She dedicated herself to helping women understand that there is no one way to travel through a cancer diagnosis and that they have choices.
Andrea described her work saying, “Every day we speak with women who have just had the rug pulled out from under them … women who have just been placed in a totally uncontrollable situation, feeling powerless and uninformed. They call our office looking for answers. These women who are already juggling many things and have just been thrown an extra ball to keep in the air. We guide them to find their own answers and encourage them to see the strength they truly have.”
Andrea also shared, “We allow women to openly discuss their cancer, and we listen without judgment, knowing we all bring who we are to the table. No two journeys are the same, and we realize that at this point, these women can’t see their own strength. It is each woman’s strength that helps the next person find theirs. The amazing ripple effect of support and hope that one phone call begins is a little miracle I am blessed to be part of every day.”
Andrea’s superpower was helping people find strength they did not know they had, what Andrea referred to as their amazing grace. She was selfless in her compassion, understanding and guidance. She never gave herself credit for helping someone find their amazing grace. Asked one day what made her support so impactful, Andrea shared, “What I do has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the women I speak with. It is their strength, their courage, their tears, their smiles and laughter, kindness and compassion that are with me every time I answer the phone. Together we help each other find the hero in us all.”
Andrea was the epitome of amazing grace. She will always be a Support Connection hero and our inspiration to help every woman and person who turns to us to find their amazing grace. This speaks to why we are thrilled to introduce The Andrea Karl Amazing Grace Award at our 2023 Spring Benefit, which will take place on Friday, April 28, 2023.