Volunteer Spotlight: Cara Gluck

Volunteer Spotlight: Cara Gluck

Tell us about your professional/educational background.

Cara Gluck is a mother of two children, Jordyn (8 years old) and Parker (6 years old), has been married to Steve for 10 years where they reside in Lawton, OK. Cara works for the Oklahoma State Department of Health as a Regional Director covering Jackson, Harmon, Greer, Beckham, & Tillman County Health Departments and has served in this role for two and a half years. Cara has a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Master’s of Public Health degree. Cara has worked in public health for almost 16 years. Cara has worked closely with the Screening and Special Services Division along with the Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry to promote CMV Awareness & Education. Cara is a busy mom but when she gets down time she enjoys spending time with her close circle of friends. 

What makes the National CMV Foundation's mission powerful for you?

National CMV Foundation is the only organization in the US that solely focuses on the education and awareness of congenital cytomegalovirus. Having worked in public health for many years prior to Parker being born, but not knowing about this devastating virus, was not okay so educating any and all people who will listen has become a passion for Cara. The National CMV Foundation was formed with the merger of several foundations, one being the Stop CMV Action Network. This organization was a great resource and a place to turn for answers in the early days after Parker's diagnosis. It was the only place I found that I could get quality information that I could trust. I began reaching out to those within the organization and found a safe place to ask questions and get a personal perspective. Once all of the foundations joined up it was a natural move to become involved with National CMV. I wanted to get involved at a national level to assist with state and local efforts. With the resources, knowledge, and social network I have been linked to many other families who have been impacted by cCMV. This organization has helped me provide information and avenues to other families with specific needs, education, and personal connections. I am so glad to be part of this organization and working towards the goal of reducing congenital CMV.  

In your role as CMV Community Alliance Chair*, what goals have you set for 2019?

My 2019 goals have been to increase awareness within Oklahoma about congenital CMV while working with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and to engage more families within a statewide network of support and resources for our children. 

What does success look like to you?

Passage and implementation of universal screening is my ultimate goal and vision for Oklahoma and the nation to eliminate the effects of congenital CMV. Honestly, I feel there is a long way to go to get where we need to be as a public health community. However, I strongly believe this is attainable and realistic within the next 10 years. I would like to see a vaccine to prevent congenital CMV cases and minimize the impact this virus has on children. I want to see the public health community, locally, statewide, and nationally incorporate dialogue about congenital CMV in routine daily operations and across all service provision areas.

What motivates you?

My motivation comes from seeing Parker succeed and everything that comes with who he is. Parker is such a significant driving force for my CMV advocacy work. My daughter motivates me to help all people see the blessings that children with additional needs are to us as society and humanity. My husband motivates through his support and strength when I feel defeated. My family, friends, and coworkers motivate me to be better, push harder, and accomplish more. Change, no matter how big or small, helps me keep moving forward. It is seen in the faces of each and every child I see who has been impacted by this virus and through their smiles. 

Parker was featured in the CMV Awareness Month #FaceofCMV campaign. We're excited to continue the campaign throughout this holiday season. Send a photo and quote about your CMV kiddo for inclusion.

As a volunteer leader, what advice do you have for fellow volunteers?

Don’t give up! Keep knocking on doors, talking to anyone and everyone who will listen. Plant the seeds you need to make the change. Relationships are vital to being able to effect change.  

Favorite quote?

“Be the change you wish to see." -Mahatma Gandhi

What do you like most about living in Oklahoma?

Honestly, the best thing about living in Oklahoma is the people. People in Oklahoma are some of the most kind, giving people I have seen in the nation. We are resilient and have faced significant adversity but continue to rise up and move forward.

You're happiest when?

I am with my family and friends. I am happy when I see my children accomplish goals and meet milestones. I am happy when I am by the ocean and beach, it is my serenity place. 

*The CMV Community Alliance is a newly launched pilot program for top CMV advocates per our strategic plan. Learn more about the CMV Community Alliance.