I was sincerely amazed and honored to be chosen to participate as a speaker in the first TEDx event in St. Cloud during October 2017. I approached the challenge to participate in this inaugural event through the lens of my personal mantra: Think it, feel it, speak it, become it, live it.

I grew up in Richmond and graduated from ROCORI High School.  My mother worked at St. Cloud State University and we spent many hours attending athletic and student events.  I knew I wanted to be a HUSKY student-athlete!  I earned the opportunity to play sports at SCSU, and received my degree in accounting.  My time was filled with personal growth, engagement in the community, exciting athletic moments and networking! 

I have always had a big heart for my hometown and central MN.  I moved to Minneapolis to begin a position with a CPA firm.  My intention was to get experience with a larger company and later return to St. Cloud area.  I was excelling at my job but didn’t have the passion as a future CPA.

My career path and goals would suddenly change after I developed a rare heart condition that forced me to be sedentary. This heart condition set in a motion a desire to find answers to heal my heart and fueled my passion to help others. I left my accounting career and I am now at the Mayo Clinic studying genetic heart diseases and will earn my PhD by 2020.  It has taken years for my team of doctors and me to understand my heart condition.  After 8 years of living a new normal and being diagnosed with stage II heart failure, I would find myself defying many odds and become a participant in the IRONMAN on 9/10/17, something the doctors never thought would be possible!

This journey created an opportunity for me to share my story and hopefully inspire others to think it, feel it, speak it, become it and live it. I think justice was done and St. Cloud hosted a TEDx that should be an annual event! The organizers were impressive as were many gracious community volunteers.  I viewed other TED talks and was fascinated with how the St. Cloud TEDx came together.  It was a professional, polished, impressive and classy event.  Every little detail was well planned and perfect.  The speakers were treated professionally, and everyone joined together to make this a special evening.

It was an honor to share the stage with amazing speakers, truly humbling!  This event demonstrated the passion and energy of this wonderful community, and reminded me why I am excited to return here when I finish school!

Kari Turkowski