FORSYTH, Ga. — A Sept. 29 fundraiser to support a local woman in her fight against breast cancer turned out to be a family reunion of sorts.
Kari Clark, 39, a Forsyth County native, is fighting triple-negative breast cancer with her husband, Matt, and three young girls by her side. The community has rallied alongside the young family, magnifying the love and compassion for the Clarks.
The event, a motorcycle ride across North Forsyth, was organized by Pathfinders, a local group that wanted to help.
“When something like this [event] happens, it’s important that the community comes out and supports it. We’re just here today trying to do a good thing,” Joe Mele, a Pathfinders member said. “We are always looking to help people, but cancer definitely hits home.
Mele, who lost a sister to brain cancer, reached out to Kari’s brother, Nathan Adams, and word soon spread. Local businesses, family and friends all came together to be a part of Kari’s Journey Ride.
“The people who’ve reached out, who don’t know Kari, have sacrificed hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars,” Adams said. “The outpouring that went into this is just uplifting.”
Matt Clark, a 16-year veteran with the Forsyth County Fire Department, even had his “fire family” on hand at the rally. Firefighters coordinated a silent auction and some even rode motorcycles, including Forsyth County Fire Chief Barry Head.
“The Clark family is an important part of our public safety family and they’re going through a difficult time right now,” Head said. “To have an event like this where a community comes together and show support of one of our employees is just heartwarming. It’s one of the things that makes our community great.”
Ron Moss, a long-time, “trusted family friend, mentor and minister of 25-plus years” and his wife flew in from British Columbia to support Kari, who was a childhood friend of their daughter.
Dozens of notes of encouragement were handwritten by attendees for Kari.
Amy Ray, of Summerville, authored a message.
“It’s hard on the family,” Ray said. “When I look around, I know what these people are going through.”
Ray’s daughter, like Kari, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Ray rode over two hours to participate in a ride that lasted roughly 30 minutes and covered a stretch of north Forsyth County.
Kari herself was unable to attend, having just finished her third week of radiation therapy.
“She’s at home resting, it [treatment] took a whole lot out of her,” Matt Clark explained. “She wanted so bad to be here, and she woke up this morning and just knew she needed to rest.”
Kari was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. She went into remission, but the condition returned in 2016. While receiving treatment in Newnan in August, Matt’s truck was stolen.
“When I went down to get her lunch, I noticed my truck was gone,” he said.
They never found the truck, but they did get back a guitar that was inside, an anniversary gift from Kari.
“It was very sentimental, because she got it for me, and I finally got that back,” he said.
The motorcycle ride helped raise nearly $6,000.
“Such an out pouring of generosity and hospitality, it means a whole lot to us,” Clark remarked.
Despite everything, the Clarks are staying positive for their young daughters.
“They were so little when it all happened in 2013, and with the reoccurrence in 2016, they’ve kinda adjusted,” Matt Clark said. “It’s all hands on deck and we’re just going to be a family however we can. They’re good. It’s normal for them.”
Annie Adams, Kari’s sister-in-law, has organized The Daisy Dash 5K, named after Kari’s favorite flower. Slated to be a “pink out,” the event will be Sunday, Nov. 10, and more information is available at www.thedaisydash5k.com.