Following in her mother’s footsteps, Kara came from the sunny state of Florida to attend Eastern Mennonite University and study music. While there, she met Michael Martin, a Pennsylvania native who was studying nursing. They soon began spending more time together and discovered that taking long drives in the rolling countryside of Rockingham County, was something they really enjoyed. This was probably due to the fact that neither of them could do this in their home states. And before long they ventured into hiking some of the local trails too. They fell in love and got married and decided to raise their family here in the Shenandoah Valley. Jack was born in 2006, and Grant followed in 2008. They had been members at the Rec Center for a while but now with two children they needed a fitness center that offered childcare. Michael suggested the Wellness Center and in November of 2008 their family joined our family. Kara had never left her children in public childcare before and was a little reluctant at first, but the Kids Klub staff were very patient and caring and Jack and Grant adjusted well. Kara had goals of loosing “baby weight” and maintaining her fitness level. While she had never been an athlete, she always enjoyed staying active and she soon began taking group fitness classes like Muscle Solution and Zumba and swimming in the pool. She and her friend Katie Rankin worked out and took classes together.
In the summer of 2011 Kara found out she was expecting their third child, and on March 7, 2012 Kara gave birth to a sweet baby girl named Elsa. Her pregnancy and birth were normal as was the first day following Elsa’s birth. Then Kara unexpectedly developed a serious “strep infection” throughout her body, that concentrated itself in her left leg. The infection worsened and became life threatening and Kara was transported to UVA. While unconscious, the doctors made the decision to amputate Kara’s entire left leg in order to save her life. Grateful to be alive, it wasn’t until early May of 2012 that Kara was able to begin the long road of rehabilitation. Her rehab began at UVA Health South, where she would learn how to stand up, sit down and to transfer herself from her bed into a wheel chair. She had to learn the skills of daily activities all over again. Once she learned how to take care of herself and her basic needs, she learned how to use crutches, which she says, “are a lifesaver!” This entire time, the community rallied around her and her family. One group built a wheelchair ramp on the side of their home, someone else donated a car with automatic transmission, another group installed a chairlift in their 2 story home. While all of this was going on, people were constantly helping to take care of their three children and delivering meals to the family. Kara and Michael were blessed and amazed at the generosity of the community. She found the strength to face each day from her relationship with the Lord as she continued her rehab and progressed to Sentara RMH Rehab in the fall of that year. She set goals of returning to the Wellness Center and taking the muscle solution class and swimming in the pool. One year later in the fall of 2013, Kara victoriously achieved her goals. With the encouragement and positive coaching of Group Fitness Instructor and personal trainer Cathy Thornton, she made it through a muscle solution class! And she was soon able to swim in a straight line. Kara now swims up to a mile in the fitness pool and participates in aqua classes. She would like to come into the Wellness Center more often, but raising their 3 children, 9 sheep, 7 chickens, 1 dog and 1 cat keeps her and Michael pretty busy.
Living life as an amputee is challenging and there are days when she is not sure she wants to get out of bed, but Kara says she continues to draw her daily strength from her Savior Jesus Christ and gives Him the glory for her life.