Putting the ‘Vital’ in Vital Corps

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The Big Reach: Kara Martin Snyder

Look at Kara Martin Snyder’s photograph, and you can’t help but notice the palpable energy and compassion that she brings to her life and work. She puts the “vital” in Vital Corps all right.

Vital Corps is Kara’s business. She calls herself a rock-star health and lifestyle coach, but I don’t actually know her in that capacity. I trust that she is very good at what she does because I have seen her at work in other capacities. (Also, her clients rave about her as a troubleshooting, inspiring, “no-nonsense goofball.”) Look out.

I sat with Kara on a subcommittee for the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, and she was full of ideas and inspiration. I also have written about Kara for The Republican of Springfield. That’s when she really captured me.

I learned while working on that story that Kara lost a good childhood friend to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia 10 years ago. This year, she took that experience and put it to work for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Kara’s friend, Patrick “Noodle” Newell, was a handsome, zany, clowning kind of guy. He even joked his way through his struggle with cancer. His loss hit hard and came not long after Kara mourned her father, several other relatives and another friend. But Patrick was only 26; his death was a serious wake up call for Kara.

She was living in New York City at the time, 26 years old herself, and she was grappling with serious digestive issues brought about by working and playing too hard. She made significant food, lifestyle and career changes, which led her to break free from a life controlled by her irritable bowels, remove antacids as a primary food group, and create Vital Corps.

This spring, Kara was nominated for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2014 Woman of the Year award and tirelessly told her story and raised funds for the nonprofit. I was incredibly impressed with the passion that Kara brought to telling Patrick’s story and to raising funds for an organization she believes in. Storytelling is my thing; I was glad to see that Kara also recognized its importance in raising awareness.

“Pat’s death triggered action,” she says in her somewhat irreverent and beautifully-told story on the LLS website. “I wouldn’t have figured out what kind of person I want to be.”

At the society’s Woman of the Year gala on May 22 in Boston, Kara wasn’t named Woman of the Year, but she had other major successes. Her storytelling introduced over 1,000 people to Patrick around the 10th anniversary of his death, and it raised $41,000 for the organization through a series of fundraisers and a social media campaign over only 10 weeks.

See what I mean? She’s a pistol.

Kara was awarded the 2014 Mission Award for demonstrating exceptional outreach and advocacy throughout her campaign, and while the competition is over, it’s never too late to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Kara tells me September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. You can donate at  http://www.lls.org/#/aboutlls/chapters/ma/.




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