December 16th, 2016

Hyland's Heroes: Donna Karas

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Donna Karas
Photo courtesy of Mrs. Kathy Fehder

The following feature is a part of a bi-weekly series, sponsored by Hyland Insurance. "Hyland's Heroes" is a series of profiles that spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports.  (Go to and search Hylands Heroes.)

Donna Karas is originally from Long Island, New York.  She got married and moved to Kentucky at the age of 22 and has been in Kentucky for 35 years.  All five of her children were born in Kentucky.  In high school, she ran track but her mom was always worried she would get hurt. 

This didn’t stop her from loving to run.  Nevertheless, when she had children, four out of the five kids had the gift of running, and have competed at elite levels including collegiate athletics.

When and how did you get your start with Corpus Christi Classical Academy?

When my three youngest children attended “Our Lady of Guadalupe,” I was asked to teach third and fourth Grade by the former principal.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved?

Mrs. Fehder, my current Principal, asked me to start a running team at Corpus Christi Classical Academy. She wanted the whole school involved but I kept it to K-5th grade. We have 20 kids on the team presently.

What sports did or do you volunteer to help and for how long?

I’ve been volunteering at multiple races since Gabriella had been in elementary school. However, this is my first year coaching along with my daughter, Gabriella.

What’s the connection with your faith and giving your time to student athletes?

Running can be an individual sport but is also a team effort. It’s a sport where everyone can get involved. My rule is the students cannot say “they can’t.” I prefer them to say “I can do it.” The theme of our team is “All for Christ” which is our school motto. “God does not pay us for results but for effort.

Who was the most influential person on your volunteer career? Why?

My principal Mrs. Fehder and daughter Gabriella are the most influential people. Originally, I told Mrs. Fehder I couldn’t coach this year. However, when I told Gabriella about training the students, she offered to help. Now she makes the running schedules and assists leading practices.

My daughter Gabriella was hit by a drunk driver last April and presently has a stress fracture on part of her hip. This gave her an opportunity to coach with me and give back to the community.  She and I get to spend more time together.

What are your major themes/principles as a volunteer?

My principles are to equip each child with his/her gifts and skills with the tools of running to nurture their souls to give back to the community.  I’ve always enjoyed working with children and have been a teacher for over 35 years. I’m a Third Order Dominican at St. Louis Bertrand in Louisville. Corpus Christi Classical Academy has taught me to give it all to Christ and not to count the cost. My three younger children ran for AAU and our running family has dinner every Sunday night. We pray out in restaurants before we eat. Since my three younger children attended CCCA, other runners are wearing their scapulars because of being introduced by my family.

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of volunteer time?

My fondest memory is seeing the kids improving and having fun at the same time. Seeing the love and smiles on their faces that they want to stay after school and run.


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