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Into the Community: The Advocate

Category: Uncategorized

By Alex Cate

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Karen Blake takes one look at a child suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and melts.

Blake, an attorney and court specialist with the UT Institute for Public Service’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service, was diagnosed six years ago with rheumatoid arthritis and has since taken a leading role in helping advocate for research funding by serving as an ambassador and lobbyist for the Arthritis Foundation. Finding new medicine and treatments to help children are what drive her the most.

Funding secured as a result of her efforts, and those of other ambassadors, helped the National Institutes of Health develop arthritis medication that is taken orally, an alternative to painful injections.

“I can use my business skills, my lawyer skills and things I’ve learned in work and apply them outside to help people because this is bigger than me,” Blake said.

Early in her diagnosis, Blake struggled to walk and was forced to undergo chemotherapy. Through her treatment at Mayo Clinic, she’s back walking and helping others learn about the issues facing children and adults.

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As an ambassador, she also plays a role in promoting local events such as the Jingle Bell Run—a 5k run/walk that helps bring awareness and raise money for research.

“I am really grateful, and I’m a definite recipient of all that work so I really just have to give back,” she said. “I’m a servant and that’s just what I do, in work and outside.”

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