Fun run Aug. 4 benefits Bruce Karr’s life’s work
SNOHOMISH - The city isn’t soon to forget local saint Bruce Karr, and the second annual fundraiser in his honor will help ensure that his good deeds can keep spreading.
The second annual Bruce Karr Memorial Fun Run/Walk will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4. The race will start at the intersection of Pine and Maple avenues.
Proceeds will be split evenly between Karr’s legacy charity, The Farm, as well as his childhood friend’s organization, The American Anti-Cancer Institute.
The Institute’s CEO and fun run co-organizer Bob Wright grew up on the same street and graduated high school with Karr.
“It’s special for me, and hopefully more kids will be helped because of it,” Wright said of the fun run.
Event-goers don’t have to walk or run to be part of the festivities; there also will be a health fair. Expect a bounty of organic fruits and vegetables, live music, face painting and booths with nutritional supplements and drinks.
The Bruce Karr Memorial Health Fair will kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 and will run until 6 p.m. Wright said it will be a “sort of street fair,” starting at Union Avenue and First Street and will wrap around the corner in front of the former Carnegie Library.
Participants of the fundraiser will pay a $15 entry fee (plus a $3-5 processing fee) to walk or run the 5 kilometer course along the Centennial Trail. Entry to the race will include a goody bag and T-shirt.
Event co-organizer Vicki Speck said anyone can do it, and “you don’t have to run.”
“Last year my grandkids did it. And my daughter walked it, pushing her youngest in a stroller,” Speck said.
The event is noncompetitive, but there will be a clock for those who want to race the 3.1 miles or time their run.
The inaugural fun run in 2011 drew 60 to 100 participants; Wright hopes for 200 this year.
Participants are not required to earn pledges, but they are encouraged to raise additional money through sponsors willing to donate by lump sum or per kilometer.
Official sponsors of the event are McDaniel’s Do-It Center, Chase Bank of Snohomish, Bickford Motors, and Relive, a nutritional supplement company.
Bruce Karr’s legacy
Bruce Karr was once just a working class man born and raised in Snohomish. But in 1994, he had a brush with death that made him take a second look on the imprint his short life had had — and it wasn’t big enough.
After that day, Karr dedicated the rest of his 15 years of life to helping the homeless and disenfranchised across three counties in Washington state.
Doctors had found a gaping hole in his heart and told him he had hours, maybe a day to live. But Karr cheated death that day, and his heart, surgically plugged a week later, kept beating until he lost his fight with pancreatic cancer in July 2010.
Upon getting his second chance at life, Karr formed The Farm, a ministry on his late grandmother’s once dilapidated farm that cared more about the basics “like food for the hungry and clothes for the naked” than spreading the word of God.
The Farm started as nothing more than a garage for youth group meetings, stocked with donated pop and pizza.
Over the years, with his heart still inexplicably ticking, Karr fixed up the whole farm, and the organization has since grown to host two annual events that benefit homeless from Skagit, Snohomish, and King counties. The two events during Christmas and Easter provide not only celebration for the attendees, but kids are given shoes, clothes, and most importantly, the magic of the season.
“All of these things they don’t have because they’re in a shelter,” his widow Vicki Stevens-Karr said.
Bruce was especially known to reach out to troubled youth, and he regularly worked with them one on one, Stevens-Karr said.
“He just had a special light about him; they just loved him,” she said.
In the wee hours of a July day in 2008, Karr awoke with a back pain that sent him to see doctors in Seattle. The pain turned out to be caused by stage four pancreatic cancer that had eaten through his spine and broken his back.
Though the doctors once again put a time stamp on his life, this time for 30 days, Karr again beat the odds. He lived for another two years, and Stevens-Karr said he spent that time working the telephones every day for The Farm, raising money.
“Every day he just pushed and pushed. He lived every day like it was his last,” she said. What does she miss most about the man that touched thousands?
“Love,” she said.