Vidakovich column: Kara — Glenwood’s ‘Star of the World’
Alice Brouhard knows where to go each morning for a good cup of coffee and some pleasant company. And with the price for the brew being a measly $2 fare, it’s well worth the short trek she has to make from her home in Glenwood Park for a little caffeine indulgence.
“Kara says her coffee is every bit as good as Starbucks, so she charges me $2,” says Alice, with more than a hint of amusement in her voice. “I go for a visit every morning. It’s our time together.”
Alice is a retired registered nurse. Her daughter Kara is not only a master coffee maker., but also the miracle of Alice and her husband Jim Brouhard’s life.
The Brouhards’ life changed drastically well over three decades ago when on the late afternoon of Dec. 21, 1986, Kara and Jim decided to take a break on their last skiing run of the day on Sunlight Mountain. Sitting down on the Ute run to rest and eat a little snow, Kara, who was in kindergarten at the time at St. Stephen’s School, was run into by an out of control skier who was careening down the mountain at a high rate of speed.
Kara doesn’t remember much about the collision that would forever change her life. There was a bang, and then just black space or a black room. She stopped breathing immediately and was airlifted off the mountain to the trauma center at St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Junction.
The disaster left Kara with a traumatic brain injury that resulted in left side paralysis, peripheral vision loss and a seizure disorder. For Kara and her family, the long road to recovery would start with the first steps to learning to walk and talk all over again.
Apparently the word disability failed to read the scouting report on Kara Brouhard. Always driven and determined, the 2000 graduate of Glenwood High School has managed to carve out quite a life for herself, with, of course, the help of Alice and Jim.
An Apple Reminder Application that records Kara’s own voice and reminds her what to do all day long has given Kara the opportunity to live with her dog, Tucker, with minimal support at her home in Cardiff Glen.
“Kara made it clear from a very young age that she wanted to live her own life when she got older, and that’s what she is doing,” Alice said.
Kara stays busy by volunteering at a local animal shelter, baking cookies each week for the police and firemen, making bracelets for the Hot Springs Pool gift shop and, until recently, selling her famous trail mix known as “Kara’s Krunchies” at the downtown farmers’ market.
A little over a year ago, Kara decided she wanted to take on a much larger challenge. Scaling Mount Sopris was the goal, and into the picture entered Eric Weihenmayer of the No Barriers Foundation. Weihenmayer was the first legally blind climber to scale Mount Everest, and he was enlisted to help Kara on her journey up Sopris.
With all of the loose rocks and unsure footing on the final stages of Mount Sopris, Weihenmayer decided the climb would be too dangerous for Kara, and she should choose something a little safer. So Kara decided she wanted to go back up to the place where she had been injured during that winter so long ago on Sunlight Mountain.
With her mother, several friends and a film crew hired by No Barriers at her side, Kara headed back up to the place where she and her father had sat down for a peaceful rest before completing the last run of the day and heading for home.
That late August 2021 day was cold and rainy, and there were several times when Kara needed the coaxing of her traveling party to finally reach her destination. Confronting her past, Kara says she felt some confusion, along with anger and sadness when she reached the spot of the accident. But she was proud that she had the courage to go back and make the hike on such a cold, wet and muddy day.
Kara’s trek is now an award-winning documentary that is worth checking out. “Kara — The Star of the World” has won awards at the Orlando International Film Festival, the Oregon Film Festival, and as an online best picture for a short documentary.
Losing her father Jim this past March to a traumatic brain injury was another in a long line of challenges that Kara has had to face in her 41 years of life. With the constant support of Alice, Kara will continue on and strive to be successful in whatever she tries.
Her motto in life is, “What is within you is much stronger than what is in your way.”
Kara may have been slowed down a little at a young age by circumstances beyond her control, but she will never be stopped. She’s proven that time and time again.
I may have to stop by Kara’s home some morning with Alice and make sure that her coffee is all that it is cracked up to be. Of course, I’ll make sure I have $2 with me.
Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.
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