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Karen's Story

Our center is named after Karen Yontz, a young woman who fought an inspiring battle against debilitating heart disease.

An Inspiring Fight and a Lasting Legacy

Karen Yontz was a lifelong resident of Milwaukee and the picture of health. When Karen was in her 20s, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma – a cancer of the lymphatic system. With treatment and therapy Karen was able to beat the cancer.

Years later, on her 40th birthday, Karen fell ill at a restaurant while with her husband, Ken, and lapsed into unconsciousness. After an initial misdiagnosis in a hospital emergency room, a cardiologist determined Karen had suffered a heart attack. Karen was transported via air ambulance to Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center where she underwent a successful quintuple bypass surgery. She lived a relatively healthy life before passing away in her sleep at age 48 due to heart-related complications.

During the eight years between her heart attack and her passing, Karen recognized the ramifications heart disease has on an individual, a family, a community and a nation. Knowing how passionate Karen was about the issue, her husband Ken made a generous contribution to the Aurora Health Care Foundation in her memory. "It was more to honor her in a way I think she would like to be honored," Ken said of his efforts. "That is, to help other people."

In 1996, The Karen Yontz Women's Cardiac Awareness Center was established and has been a resource to women in the community ever since.