An Update from our 2020 Tom Watson Award for Courage Recipient: Karen & Tony Vick
Tony Vick served his country for 16 years in the Army and Air Force Reserves, including 10 years in the civil service. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2017, just a few years after he married Karen. In March 2020, we hosted a Night of Hope in Kansas City and honored Tony and Karen. The ballroom of hundreds listened as he spoke about his faith and optimistic view of life. Many things have changed since 2020, but one thing remains for Tony and Karen Vick: hope.
"With ALS you take each day and month as it comes," Karen said. "Since you last saw us I now work from home more and most days you can find us working out together in our home gym.”
Every day, they work together to face the challenges ALS brings. She said, “When you aren’t given a choice, you just adapt and overcome, because tomorrow is more than likely going to look different than today.”
“We are at the point where we’ve got a good groove going for Tony’s care and keeping up with daily life.”
Karen owns a local boutique, and with the help of family and friends, she’s been able to continue to run her business. She said, “Achieving balance as a spousal caregiver and business owner, means you have to be prepared for changes and try to resist the urge to take on everything yourself.” She added, “Don’t forget to care of yourself.”
The Vick’s support system help them with cooking, cleaning, yard work and anything they might need. Their strong community of support is apparent every year at The Walk to Defeat ALS. This year, over 30 people walked on Tony and Karen’s Walk team: Vicktory over ALS. She said, “We definitely couldn’t do this without our tribe of people. “
The ALS Association also has been a helpful resource to Karen, in caregiving for Tony. She said, “The ALS Association is like a security blanket for me. If I needed anything, day or night, I know I could reach out to them and they would do whatever they could to help me.” She said, “That peace of mind is priceless.”
Although life looks different for Karen and Tony, they continue with resilience. They’ve participated in ALS Advocacy conferences, to spread awareness of the disease. In addition, Karen shares videos on her Instagram and Tiktok, highlighting the raw reality of caregiving for a spouse. Several of her videos have gone viral, furthering awareness of ALS and the strength of caregivers.
She said, “My journey as a caregiver has given me a purpose in life I never expected. I’m a totally different person today than I was the day he told me he had ALS.” Tony and Karen’s lives look different; however, they continue to press on with love and hope. She said, “Since his diagnosis we have grown closer to each other and to God.”
Give Hope for ALS is an opportunity for you to help families like the Vick’s. You can Make a Difference for individuals affected by ALS by donating today.
Follow along with Karen & Ton'y journey: Instagram and TikTok @thekaregiver