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Cancer Survivor Driven to Support Cancer Care and Research at Karmanos


(From left) Ellen Monterosso of Karmanos’ new clinical core lab is joined by 3Balls Racing event planners Brenda and Ken Grulich, 3Balls Racing supporter, as well as Karmanos lab staff Diane Bortolin and Jonathan Kosmas, to accept the $20,000 check raised at this year’s 3Balls Racing fundraiser to support Karmanos’ new clinical lab.

Second Annual 3Balls Racing Event

Grateful cancer survivor, deep appreciation for family, a passion for living, love of fast cars and a willingness to give back to help other cancer patients. Put all of those elements together and you have Ken Grulich of Holly, Michigan – creator of the 3Balls Racing fundraiser to benefit the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. 

Grulich received cancer treatment at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in 2011 after his wife Brenda noticed a suspicious mole on his back. It turned out to be stage 2 nodular melanoma. The cancerous spot, along with a cluster of lymph nodes, were surgically removed by Steve Kim, M.D., Chief of Surgery at Karmanos. Thankfully, the lymph nodes were clear of cancer and Grulich has been cancer-free ever since. He continues to follow-up with Dr. Kim every year.

“Being diagnosed with cancer was a life-changing experience,” said Grulich. “I put off going to the doctor and probably wouldn’t have gone if it weren’t for my wife Brenda who encouraged me to take action. 

“I was lucky. I felt I got off pretty easy compared to what many others with cancer go through. I was completely amazed by the wonderful care I received at Karmanos. It was like no other hospital experience. I wanted to give back, so mixing my love of car racing to support the work of Karmanos seemed like the perfect fit.” 

For the second consecutive year, Grulich, with the help of his friends, all car racing enthusiasts, gathered for the second annual 3Balls Racing fundraiser the last weekend in June to support the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will benefit the new clinical lab at Karmanos. Last year’s 3Balls Racing event supported the melanoma research work headed up by Patricia LoRusso, D.O., of Karmanos who is also the co-leader of the Stand Up to Cancer Melanoma Dream Team.

More than 100 people participated in this year’s two-day event at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven. Guests had the option of participating for one or both days. The number of participants were limited since, for safety reasons, there can only be so many cars on the track at any given time. Drivers took turns on the track, enjoyed the camaraderie with other car buffs, bid on wonderful silent auction items and shared a delicious lunch. Some of the silent auction items included special car care packages provided by Kenny “the Car Guy” Walters; lifetime passes to attend 3Balls Racing events; tickets to major sporting events; and even American Girl dolls.

Grulich shared that 3Ball Racing’s followers include doctors, lawyers, engineers and many other professionals who share their love of fast cars and never hesitate to do what they can to help others. 

“It’s a funny sight to see all these men bid on the dolls for their little girls,” Grulich said. “We encourage families to come out and watch the festivities and welcome the community’s support.”

This year’s 3Ball Racing event raised $20,000, bringing the total contribution from the two-year 3Balls Racing fundraisers to $32,460.

“I’m grateful to Karmanos for the care I received and look forward to spending many years with my wife and two-year-old daughter.

“It’s so rewarding to be able to give back and to see the results of our efforts, knowing that it will benefit other cancer patients. The work that Karmanos does is simply amazing.”

Plans are underway for the 2014 3Balls Racing event next summer.

For information on skin cancer prevention see the Karmanos Skin Health Awareness fact sheet.

© 2014 Karmanos Cancer Institute Pencil
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center is accredited by The Joint Commission.
If members of the public have any quality-of-care or safety concerns, they may notify The Joint Commission at 630-792-5800.