When it comes to helping out a good cause, people will often find the courage to do things they wouldn’t normally do — like rappel down the side of one of Burlington’s tallest buildings. That’s exactly what South Burlington’s Karen Newman and almost 100 others will do this weekend at the Courtyard Mariott Harbor Hotel in Burlington when they go “Over the Edge” for the Flynn Center for Performing Arts. With each participant raising $1,000 or more for the Flynn, the event is a major fundraiser for the Flynn. In it’s third year, the event has raised over $100,000 for their bottom line over the last two years.
For Newman, the task is a tall one, as she’s scared of heights. On this day, she’s doing a practice rappel down one of the walls at Petra Cliffs Indoor Climbing Center in Burlington. They’ll be on hand to assist climbs at the event. Karen’s son Chase says he was surprised when he found out her plans, “It’s kind of our of her comfort zone. She’s kind of a scardy cat really, but when it comes to a good cause she’ll try anything.” he said.
Karen’s never been one to let fear stop her from doing anything. In 2008, she was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer. “I kind of wanted to help everybody out there, and show them we can face incredible challenges and overcome them and we should not let fear stop of us from anything,” says Karen. She not only beat it – but came back stronger, competing as a triathlete for Team USA, later turning her inspirational story into a book called, “Just Three Words”.
“I was on this whirlwind book tour was like yes I made it! I’m doing my purpose and then boom I was just taken out!” she remembers. That’s when, on Mothers Day 2016, Karen went to the hospital after experiencing back pain and collapsing after a race.
“I was told it was cancer in my spine and pelvis, that was devastating. The most devastating thing in the whole world was to tell my family we have to face the monster again,” she recalls. Facing it was the only option. “We have a choice every day are we going to dwell on our challenges? Am I going to dwell on the pain that tumors and cancer in the bone causes? Or am I going to dwell on the fact that I have today and I’m going to do something amazing?”
Karen took the later option. Just over a year later, she’s back to competing regularly in triathlons. “I’m super proud of her. I couldn’t be more proud of what she’s done and overcome. Having breast cancer racing competing and doing well,” says her son Trent Newman.
Despite the prognosis, Karen continues to face any and all fears that come her way. Next up, it’s that fear of heights. “With each step down the Mariott, I’m going to believe that the cancer is going down, Fear is going down, nothing is going to hold me back and I hope nothing holds anybody back. Lets do amazing things for the community.” she says.
The 3rd Annual ‘Over the Edge’ for the Flynn event takes place Saturday, September 2nd. If you’re interested in watching Karen and the other participants make their way down the hotel, swing by anytime between 8 am and 5 pm. Karen is scheduled to go over around 2 pm. Local 22/44’s Erin Cofiell is also going ‘Over the Edge,’ she’s slated to go down around 11. For more information, click here. Karen’s fundraising page can be found by clicking here.