Dancer steps closer to dream | NevadaAppeal.com

Dancer steps closer to dream

Robyn Moormeister

Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Alicia Karau reflects on her battle with cancer and her subsequent loss of her leg.

Thanks to a $39,000 donation from a Reno stock investor, dancer and amputee Alicia Karau, 20, will take the stage again on a state-of-the-art prosthetic leg.

“This man is amazing,” Karau said. “He’s giving me my life back.”

A talented dancer and former high school cheerleader, Karau lost her right leg to bone cancer in June when an above-the-knee amputation was her only option to live.

Karau wants to dance on a C-Leg, a $45,000 sophisticated and expensive prosthetic specifically designed for athletes.

Shortly after a Nov. 18 article in the Appeal, donations to Karau’s Bank of America “Alicia’s New Leg” medical fund began rolling in, but Karau’s dream got a sudden boost Tuesday afternoon when Reno stock investor G. Geoffrey Edwards donated a whopping $39,000 to Karau through the Reno Cancer Foundation.

“After reading about (Karau), I just kind of broke down,” Edwards said Wednesday. “I can really relate to it. It really touched me.”

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Edwards said a serious accident in October 2002 caused him to undergo seven surgeries, during which he had to be resuscitated twice.

“I’m very blessed to be alive after seven surgeries,” Edwards said. “I guess God had other plans for me.”

The father of a 16-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy, Edwards said he’s just glad he’s fortunate enough to give a $39,000 donation.

Karau’s father called Edwards after learning of the donation Tuesday, and immediately passed on the news to his daughter.

Karau called her dance teacher Stephanie Arrigotti, artistic director of the Western Nevada Community College’s Musical Theatre Company. She directed Karau in a production of “Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

“I got a message from Alicia, but she could barely speak she was sobbing so hard,” Arrigotti said. “I couldn’t understand what she said, but I was hoping it was good.”

When Arrigotti returned her student’s call, the two cried together on the phone for a good 15 minutes.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Arrigotti said. “I’m just speechless.”

During the dance company’s Nov. 20-21 production of “Carousel,” the audience donated more than $6,000. Arrigotti presented the money to Karau at intermission.

“Men were crying in the audience,” Arrigotti said. “I’m so proud of this community and the way people opened up to her. I think it was the most moving experience I’ve ever known.”

Resting up from muscles strained by physical therapy at her Sun Valley home Wednesday, Karau said her doctors report there are no more tumors in her body – extremely good news after a recent round of chemotherapy for lymph nodes in her groin.

Now all she has to worry about is getting strong enough to use her basic prosthetic without crutches – a test she has to pass before her prosthetist will fit her for a custom C-Leg.

“That should be no problem for Alicia,” Arrigotti said. “I want her to appear in “Beauty and the Beast” so our audience can see her again.”

“Beauty and the Beast” shows in May, and Karau said she wouldn’t miss it, though she will go back to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in January to continue work on her major in broadcast journalism.

“I’ll be traveling back and forth a lot,” Karau said.

Karau’s voice tightened with choked tears, something that’s happened a lot lately.

“Everybody’s been so wonderful,” she said. “I’m really doing great.”

Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at rmoormeister@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

You can help

To help Alicia Karau’s family with lingering medical bills associated with her cancer treatments, make checks out to “Alicia’s New Leg Medical Fund” at any Bank of America branch.