2012 began with high hopes and great joys for Doug Kollasch of Algona. Married since 2009 to Teresa, they were expecting twins in late October or early November. His son Dustin was starting high school in the fall. A giving person, dedicated to helping others, Doug’s an active Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. As an up and coming leader, he was elected by the delegates to the Iowa Knights of Columbus Convention in Sioux City to represent Iowa at the 130th Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in Anaheim, California. Then came June 12, 2012 and life for the Kollasch family changed.
Doug began having fainting spells on that June day. After several more of these fainting spells and visits to doctors, he was sent to have CT and MRI scans. The results were not good. Doug was diagnosed with a brain tumor in his right cerebrum, a Grade 3 Cancerous Astrocytoma. Due to the location of the tumor, it is not able to be surgically removed without potential left side paralysis.
With treatments beginning nearly immediately after being diagnosed, there was no way Doug and Teresa could travel to Anaheim. For Doug, whose passions are family, faith, and community, this was a great disappointment.
Fast forward to late April 2013. Responding well to treatments to control the tumor’s growth with some shrinking actually occurring, Doug, Teresa, and twins Carter and Lilly attend the Iowa Knights of Columbus Convention in Coralville. Given his inability to attend last year’s Supreme Convention, Doug was elected to represent Iowa at the 131st Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
After Doug’s election, Teresa emailed the Supreme Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut sharing their story and how seeing some of the Iowa Knights personally meeting with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson was heartbreaking for Doug. Teresa also shared that they would be delegates to the convention in San Antonio and would really like to set-up a simple, quick, meet and greet with Anderson.
As they drove from Iowa to Texas, Teresa still had not heard from the Supreme headquarters so she assumed it got passed to the side, but at least she had tried. Little did she know plans were in the works.
On Wednesday night at the convention, Julie Bellendier, wife of Supreme Director Dave Bellendier of Iowa, took Teresa aside and asked if she had contacted Supreme. She said she had. Julie shared Supreme noticed and wanted to make the meeting happen. Teresa was overjoyed. But Julie mentioned she had to keep it a secret from Doug just in case plans changed and the meeting could not occur.
As Doug attended the final convention session on Thursday, Teresa nervously waited to hear if the meeting happened. At the end of the session, Dave Bellendier approached Doug and asked him to follow him. They were going to meet Anderson, who was still on stage. Doug was shocked. Anderson wished Doug the best with his medical issues, gave him a personal medallion, and a gift for Teresa. They then posed for a quick photo.
Iowa Knight of Columbus Doug Kollasch, left, is all smiles after meeting Supreme Knight of Columbus Carl Anderson, right.
Doug could not believe what was happening. When asked his thoughts on the experience, he said “It truly was a top moment of my life.”
This meeting with its simple expressions of love and compassion, watching out for and taking care of one another, and faith in God are examples of the principles of charity, unity, and fraternity, the backbone of the Knights of Columbus. If you are male 18 years of age or older who is a practical (that is, practicing) Catholic in union with the Holy See, please consider joining the Knights of Columbus. For more information, visit www.kofc.org/join.