5K to help Crystal Lake sophomore with leukemia

CRYSTAL LAKE – Melissa Baumstark loves to run, but not from adversity.

When the 23-year-old Crystal Lake resident heard her younger sister had been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in November, she knew she had to help in the fight against the potentially fatal disease.

Six months later, Baumstark is ready to run with hundreds of others at the Kare 4 Kaitlyn 5K she organized. The race will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. in Lippold Park.

Baumstark’s sister, Kaitlyn Richards, is a sophomore at Crystal Lake Central High School and has managed to receive academic honors despite missing many days for chemotherapy treatment.

Baumstark said her sister has been an inspiration in her positive attitude and work ethic despite the disease.

“It’s sad to see a 15-year-old go through things we cannot even imagine,” Baumstark said. “I just wanted to be able to contribute to our family and do something for us.”

The event already has raised about $3,000, and Baumstark hopes to attract about 300 people to it. Registration is open to the public and will start at 8:45 a.m. Saturday. Registration is $25 for those 11 and older and a freewill donation for runners 10 years old and younger.

Jennifer Baumstark said she is proud of both of her daughters for how they have handled the situation and stayed positive. She said Richards battle would continue long after the race with 11 months of intense chemotherapy and two years of maintenance chemotherapy.

But the community support already has overwhelmed Baumstark, who said Crystal Lake Central High School has been especially generous with donations and special events such as Caroling for Kaitlyn.

“I’m over the initial shock,” Baumstark said. “It has helped to talk with other mothers who have gone through what I am going through. Everyone has been such a help.”

What: Kare 4 Kaitlyn 5K

Where: Lippold Park, Crystal Lake

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. start time; registration open at 8:45 a.m.

Cost: $25. Free will donation for runners 10 and younger.

Why: To help raise money to cover medical costs for Kaitlyn Richards, a Crystal Lake Central High School sophomore who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in November.

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