We lost an amazing human being on Saturday, August 10th at the Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race. Andy Balika was an amazing husband to Karen and father to Jett, an incredible cyclist and friend to so many people. Andy suffered a massive heart attack. He had undiagnosed atherosclerosis and a 70% left coronary blockage in addition to an undetected birth defect in his right coronary artery...it was too small. Ironic, since he had the biggest heart of anyone we knew. Both of these symptoms were completely unbeknownst to Karen and Andy. They carried no obvious symptoms or warning signs.
Karen and Jett will need funds going forward as Andy was the sole provider for their family. In addition, there was not a life insurance policy in place. These funds will help with housing and transportation costs, medical insurance and general everyday living expenses for Karen and Jett while they put the pieces back together.
You are lucky in life if you knew Andy Balika.
He once said to Karen, if you take care of me, I will take care of everything else. And he did. Literally.
He was the most beautifully generous, fiercely loyal, loving husband and friend a person could ask for. His ethos in life was based around the principal that providing happiness and support to his family and friends was primary to his own needs. He was loyal in a way few people are and a great provider to his tribe. Not just Karen and Jett, Travis, Dylan, his mother, sister, in-laws…but his greater tribe––his cycling community.
He should still be here. He made this planet a much better place.
He is the kind of man who made everyone feel seen and supported, listened to and loved. The circle of people he leaves behind is a testament to who he was a man and the communal sense of heartbreak is echoing like a large crack being heard around Colorado and beyond. If you knew him, you loved him.
Andy would hate this more than anything. He would hate to see this suffering. He was a gregarious, joyful, suck-the-marrow-out-of-life kind of guy. There are more pictures of him doing things with his wife and kids…more pictures of him rooting on other cyclists, more pictures of him making people laugh. And oh, that sense of humor, we can all hear him cutting some dirty hilarious joke in our heads…
You want to know how to honor your memory of Andy?
There is one simple way.
Take care of his family.
Support them as you know he has or would have supported yours in the biggest Andy kind of way. This is how you serve this man. There won’t be a life insurance policy and we as a collective need to foster and support Andy’s life goal of providing for his family as best as we can as a community. We owe him that, it’s the least we can do.
He lived his life to be the best husband, father and friend and we will all be better people if we simply ask ourselves “what would Andy do?”. So do it. Step up, show up. Show some grit, curse a little more, soak in the goodness that life has to offer, be outside and most importantly, love...Love on your family passionately and ride the heck out of that bike and lastly donate some money to honor what he has taught us all.