Ashlea's Story Told by: Kathy Karkula Development Director Special Olympics Minnesota Ashlea's "Auntie" and Co-Parent
Ashlea Karkula is a special Olympics Minnesota Athlete and a member of the Flames, where she competes in Bowling, Flag Football, Basketball, Track & Field and Softball. She is a young woman that does not allow her developmental and learning disabilities to distract from giving back to others by being strong herself. Not only does Ashlea participate in SOMN events, she attends Interact, an art school for persons with disabilities. Recently her personal losses of family, including her mother, caused her not only psychological pain, it also resulted in the closing of her right hand. This did not stop Ashlea. With the help of a new dog named Dewey and utilizing her artistic talents, she pulled herself out of a down time in her life. Her art was Ashlea's way of making people smile and be happy. When the Sandy Hook School tragedy happened, Ashlea did a personalized piece of art that she matted, framed and sent a personal letter to every victim's family.
Ashlea Karkula is our Because I Can woman because she lives it every day of her life. Ashlea chose Special Olympics Minnesota as her charity to benefit during her featured story.
Ashlea's 2017 update from her Aunt, Kathy: With the help of her medical team at the University of Minnesota, Ashlea's right hand has started to open. At Special Olympics, Ashlea has been accepted into the year round training in Equestrian. Her lessons are at This Old Horse/Red Jack Saddle Club in Afton. She trains for horsemanship with a "horse called Bunny". Ashlea's confidence builds with the help of an entire village that accepts her just the way she is and applaud her accomplishments’.