Karen Balika

In August 2019, Littleton, CO resident Karen lost her husband Andy at the Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race after placing 8th in the coed duo category. Later it was discovered that Andy suffered from cardiac arrest caused by an undetected heart defect. Andy and Karen’s family lived by the phrase, “Get Busy Livin’,” and they demonstrated that energy in all their passions, which included bike racing, skiing and fishing. Their son Jett carries on the energy of his parents and is nationally ranked in cyclocross and mountain bike racing. Once the Butterfly Foundation’s support network was activated, we looked for a way to support Karen so that she and Jett could once again, “Get Busy Livin’”. Together with friends of the family, we call “Andy’s Angels,” we learned that Andy had recently performed a demolition the kitchen in preparation for a remodel, but they lacked funds to put it back together. After cooordinating over $35,000 of donations toward the family, we set out on a mission to put the kitchen back together prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The photo below was taken on Wednesday, November 27, 2019—the day before Thanksgiving! Karen will be “paying it forward” by starting a foundation that promotes heart health, and will raise funds toward provision of sufficient AED devices at endurance races in CO. Click here to view the video of her kitchen reveal!