Minnehaha Academy Blog

Where They Go: Alum Karen (Aust) Tinsely Plays a Part in Saving Lives

Posted by Amy Barnard on Nov 1, 2018
Karen Tinsley SMALLER-1
  • Beat Cancer.
  • Became a courier and advocate for the Bone Marrow Donor Program.
  • Inspired others to volunteer.

Retirement? Sort of.

Some people look toward their retirement-age years as a time to kick back and relax. For Karen Tinsley ('63), however, this has been a season of taking part in a community that saves lives.

Just over nine years ago a friend mentioned that Tinsley might be a good candidate for volunteering as a courier for the National Bone Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). This took Tinsley on a journey of learning about the urgent need for bone marrow donors and the incredible way these donors save lives.

“I myself couldn’t be a donor,” explains Tinsley, who is a cancer survivor. “Being a courier provided me an opportunity to do a small thing in the process of saving peoples’ lives.”

At least 3,000 people die each year because they can’t find a matching donor. Many of these individuals are children.

Tinsley transported donations from their place of origin to the hospital where the marrow, stem or t-cells could save a life.  This is a role she never dreamed of for herself, but one that God unexpectedly sent her way, she shares.

Looking Back

This awareness of God and his involvement in her days was already present many years ago when Tinsley entered Minnehaha Academy as a freshman.

While here she actively engaged in all things music, sharing that band instructor Ms. Foote’s mentorship and intentional Christ-following lifestyle impacted her greatly.

She also recalls a key moment with choral instructor Mr. Opel: “I will always remember him stopping us one day, with tears in his eyes, asking us if we understood the significance of the text we were singing,” she says.  “That question has shaped my singing of and listening to worship music to this day.”

A Season of Richness

In addition to her advocacy for Be The Match, Karen is wife to Kenny, mom to two daughters, and grandmother to six.

She and her husband have traveled widely outside of the U.S., and both her husband and sister have stepped in to help as NMDP couriers.

For Tinsley, the retirement years have held a special richness as she has watched God open doors for her to volunteer with NMDP.

“I have said many times that it was God’s orchestration of events that lead to our involvement in this wonderful organization. It is wonderful to know from experience that God opens doors that I didn’t know were there!”

If you are interested in becoming a courier or bone marrow donor, please check out the Be The Match website for more information.

Topics: Alumni Stories

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