5K funds research, fights cancer, unites families


Last year, Kelly Bolinger founded the annual Brain Power 5K benefiting the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation. As a five-year brain cancer survivor, Kelly takes big strides to fight this lethal disease.

When did you learn you had brain cancer?

Six years ago, I took my daughter, Brooke, to the library’s story time for her first Halloween. Suddenly, my vision was so blurred the whole room seemed wavy; I felt so weird and confused that my body completely covered in chills. I called my husband, John. At home, all I could do was lie down. The feeling was indescribable.

The next morning, I woke with little improvement. I prepared a bottle for Brooke, and not long after feeding her, something didn’t feel right, even more so than before. John remembers hearing the most eerie and terrible yelling over the baby monitor. He raced into our nursery and found me having a grand mal seizure. An ambulance rushed me to the hospital; after several days and countless tests, we had an answer. I was twenty-eight years old, with a six-month-old baby, and I had brain cancer. All I could think was “But my baby has to have a mommy!” Today, Kelly has officially been tumor-free for 5 years.

What behind-the-scenes work is involved for the race?

It’s almost like planning a huge wedding where everyone has to sign a waiver, but instead, we’re working to raise a great deal of money for brain cancer research. From the beginning, I was fortunate to connect with Bill Schroeder, our invaluable race director. After securing the date, place, agenda, and timeline, I approached potential sponsors, promoted the race with social and print media, and opened registration.

What is race week like?

We’re busy stuffing hundreds of packets, anxiously checking the weather, setting up, communicating with sponsors, hosting packet pick-up . . . and much more. It’s a big rush, in a good way.

Why is this race different?

This is the only race in Central Texas supporting brain cancer research. I’m proud to say that last year we raised over $25,000! About 350 registrants and nine brain tumor survivors crossed the finish line, while several more joined us in celebration. The overall winner was a brain cancer survivor, too! We ask families to send loved ones’ names so that we may recognize our survivors and honor those we’ve lost. This event is about families, and we want it to be memorable for each one.

For more information, see this month’s Events section, visit www.brainpower5k.com, or email Kelly at Kelly@drmarnierose.org.

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