Karl helps raise $140,000 to support cancer patients, families

Nuggets coach, life partner take part in benefit for MyLifeLine.org

Nuggets coach George Karl was a casual observer as Ruler On Ice galloped through the mud and into the winner’s circle at the Belmont Stakes.

Karl didn’t make a wager on the season’s final Triple Crown race, but his interest in horseracing helped raise money for a cause much closer to his heart earlier this spring.

As a two-time cancer survivor, Karl was honored at the Jockeys, Juleps & Jazz party at Invesco Field on May 7. Attendees watched the Kentucky Derby and helped raise more than $140,000 for MyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation, a Denver-based non-profit that offers free personal Web sites for cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers.

Karl and his life partner Kim Van Deraa used MyLifeLine.org to provide updates on Karl’s recovery from throat cancer last spring.

“George and Kim's outlook on healing aligns perfectly with our mission,” said MyLifeLine.org executive director and founder Marcia Donziger. “We believe a strong support community is critical for families dealing with cancer. No one should go through the treatment process alone."

Karl often refers to Van Deraa as his “cancer angel” because of her support and tireless work during his treatment and recovery. She managed the household and attended each doctor’s appointment throughout his battle.

“MyLifeLine.org was a blessing,” Van Deraa said. “It helped our family make a difficult process easier by providing a forum for family, friends and the basketball community to receive updates and offer their support for George and the family.”

Karl, one of just seven coaches in NBA history to win 1,000 regular-season games, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in January 2010 and missed the final 14 games of the 2009-10 season and the playoffs.

He went through six weeks of rigorous radiation treatment and chemotherapy and was cleared to return to his normal coaching duties last August. Karl also overcame prostate cancer in 2005 and was the recipient of the Jimmy V Comeback Award for perseverance at the 2010 ESPY Awards.

Because of his personal experiences, Karl is actively involved with the American Cancer Society and the Prostate Cancer Education Council. He also is a spokesman for Hoops for St. Jude, an NBA fundraising program benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Aaron Lopez
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for Nuggets.com, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...