News Release

Light Your Family: A Run to Remember


On what could be considered one of the hardest days of the year for the Byrne family, Steve Byrne and his seven children pull on their runners and head to the beautiful Yarra Valley. With a backdrop of rolling hills and vineyards, they take to the trail and run.

The annual Yarra Valley Harvest Run has become a part of the healing process for the Byrnes; a way to honour their late wife and mother, Karen who passed away in September 2017 after a 10 year battle with cancer.

Around 20 family members and friends participated in this year’s run, joining up to 1000 other runners in the Harvest Run, which includes a 13.5km and 5.3km race. Steve and Karen’s eldest son Jared who won the 5.3km race, explained the deeper meaning behind their run during his post-race interview.

Following the event, the Byrne family continued their yearly tradition of visiting Karen’s gravesite and leaving their medals on it.

“The Harvest Run started as a way to bring our immediate family together and remember mum and has now extended to other family and friends as well,” says Serene, Steve and Karen’s eldest daughter. “It is a great way to honour the champions that gave us life.”

Doing fun things as a family has brought the Byrnes closer together, helping them to find peace and joy during a difficult year.

Steve says the family has also been trying to follow Karen’s example as the ultimate anonymous giver.

“She didn’t like to be the centre of attention and would go to great lengths to divert it to others who perhaps needed it more,” says Steve.

“That was the pattern of her life. Her personal connection with God was enough for her.

“We’d do anonymous drop-offs all the time at Christmas - she was very big on ensuring that the children were thinking of others instead of themselves.”

“In the last 12 months, frequently she went to see a friend who also had cancer, when she was in a lot of pain herself.”

During and after her chemotherapy treatment Karen had multiple blood transfusions. After she passed, the Byrne family coordinated a blood drive in her honour, helping others in critical need of blood and plasma.

In addition to family activities, Steve and many of his children have drawn strength from Karen’s last testimony.

“She said to us three main things,” says Steve.

“One was her testimony of the Saviour and his visit to the Americas, two that there are modern day prophets today and three was to love and care for one another.

“We will never forget that. It’s those three vital facts that kept us really strong and alive.”

For Serene, losing her mum forced her to assess her belief.

“When mum died, I was faced with a few big questions which I had to wrestle with for some time,” says Serene.

“Did Jesus Christ really die for us and rise again the third day? Did he really break the bands of sin and death so we can live together with our loved ones after this life?

“Despite the doubt and fear which still weighs upon me from time to time, as I continue to ponder the question of Christ's reality and divinity, I feel in my mind and my heart a peaceful, joyful and resounding: ‘YES.’

Faith and family have provided the Byrnes with the strength to carry on and find joy in this life, looking forward with hope to a future reunion with Karen.

“Until then,” says Serene, “we try our best to honour her memory by loving and caring for others the way she did.”

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