Kelly Bolinger

Run for the Rose Hero Kelly Bolinger
I had always had these ‘episodes’ for as long as I can remember. Starting back from at least when I was around 13 years old. I would have these terrible deja-vu problems followed by a massive headache and nausea. They would literally knock me out for a few hours. They happened so often that they just got to be a part of my everyday life. I went to a doctor when they first started happening and was told it was probably due to hormones at my age.

Things changed on October 31, 2006. I was now married and just had a baby. My daughter and I were going to our local library for a Halloween program and story-time. I felt completely normal all morning and was enjoying the day. Suddenly, my vision became so blurred the entire room seemed to be in waves. I felt so weird and confused that my body was completely covered in chills. It got progressively worse as the minutes went by. I was relieved when the story-time was over so we could go out to the car and I was somewhat by myself. Unable to see or think well enough to drive, I called my husband and he came to pick us up. When we got home, all I could do was lay down. I felt so sick that I was not able to eat anything the rest of the day. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before, completely indescribable. I felt so bad; like I was dying.

I woke up the next day, November 1st, with no improvement or appetite. I prepared a bottle for our baby and went into to wake and feed her. Soon after that, something didn’t feel right, even more so than before. Thankfully I thought to put our baby down on the floor. That is the last thing I remember of being home that day.

My husband later tells me, he had heard the most eerie, terrible yell and screams sounds over the baby monitor. He came into our baby’s nursery and found me having a grand-mal seizure on the floor. An ambulance and fire truck arrived within minutes to rush me to the hospital. After a few days there and countless tests they give us an answer.

-Brain Cancer.

I was 28 years old; my daughter was 6 months old. All I could think was “but my baby has to have a Mommy!”

We met with several doctors and neurosurgeons; I didn’t understand much; if anything at all. After many opinions and discussions we had brain surgery on the calendar for February 8, 2007. I was 29 years old, going in for brain surgery with a 9 month old baby. Fear doesn’t even come close to explaining where we were. I didn’t know if I’d be able to walk, talk, breathe on my own or remember anything. I wasn’t even sure if I’d survive the surgery.

Thank God the surgery went great, and my incredible medical team was able to remove the entire tumor. It was a Ganglioglioma Grade II, considered low grade, so my only treatment was the craniotomy. I will always be forever thankful to my dedicated, loving friends and family for staying by my side and helping me get to where I am today. I wouldn’t have made it a day without each of you. After surgery and returning home, I was ready to get going again. Not only that, I wanted to do something about this awful disease!

When my eyes had gotten comfortable again after surgery I started looking for a way to support brain cancer research on the computer. I couldn’t find any resources in Austin, but I did find the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation in Houston. Their funds go directly to Brain Cancer Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center and pediatric initiatives at Childrens Memorial Hermann Hospital. The Rose Family started this Foundation after they lost their daughter to brain cancer at a young age. I have made a great connection with the Roses and feel blessed to call them friends. My family and I have traveled to Houston ever since I was well enough to do so to participate in their Run for the Rose, a 5K event they host for their Foundation. It is a life changing experience, especially for someone affected by brain cancer. I have been a part of countless other cancer supporting events across Texas, but this was the only one I could find for brain cancer.

After a few years of running with the Roses, literally, I had an idea one day. Why not have a race in Austin? With that excitement from the Run for the Rose and determination from my journey, I created the Brain Power 5K in 2011. This was the first race of its kind in Central Texas; supporting brain cancer research and families affected by the disease. In our first year we raised over $25,000! We had nearly 350 registrants, 9 brain tumor survivors cross the finish line and several join us in celebration! The overall race winner was a brain cancer survivor too!

I am immeasurably grateful to be here and healthy and want to do as much as I can in the fight against brain cancer. It is a privilege to able to work on a project such as the Brain Power 5K and see the impact it has on the brain tumor community and the life-saving changes it makes on improving research through the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation. Brain cancer research is so severely underfunded and this is an opportunity for Central Texas to really make a change against this lethal disease.

I have always loved running. The rush of the race, race morning, just everything about it- from the training, volunteering and crazy early mornings, the painful freezing days to dreadful hot afternoons. Now I feel blessed to be involved with it almost all year long while making a positive impact in people’s lives. I am so thankful to be here and want to make the most out of it.

Make Hope Happen.

Kelly Bolinger
Founder, Brain Power 5K