We have such an amazing and wonderful Advisory Board this year! We have had so much fun getting to know them and are so appreciative of all of their contributions! Here’s a little information on each of them!
Kristin “Speed Racer” Catton
Speed Racer graduated from The Ohio State University College of Nursing Summa Cum Laude 1992. She has been an ICU nurse since 1992 and a LIVESTRONG Leader with the Lance Armstrong Foundation for the last 3 years. Before that she was a LIVESTRONG Army member since 2001. She has participated in the Pelotonia Charity bike event in Columbus every year since its inception as a rider as well as a representative of LIVESTRONG. She has raised over $15,000 in the last four years for both Pelotonia and LIVESTRONG. She is a cancer survivor and also has Multiple Sclerosis.
Brian “Tastycake” and Nicole“Martini” Kraft
Brian Kraft is a survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma who has authored the book “The year my dad went bald,” to help kids who face a dad with cancer. He travels the country speaking about his experiences and helping the recently diagnosed, medical students and medical professionals understand the cancer experience from a survivor/patient perspective. He is also a cartoonist and graphic designer who reaches out to kids as a substitute teacher in Columbus City Schools. His wife, Nicole, is an assistant clinical professor of Journalism in Ohio State’s School of Communication, teaching writing, editing, multimedia, media law and social media. She was previously a newspaper and magazine writer and editor, and is a freelance writer and media consultant.
Greg “Sgt. Pepper” Boone
Sgt. Pepper is a General Surgeon in Canton with special interest in breast cancer care. He is an eleven year prostate cancer survivor. He has been a Livestrong Leader for the past 3 years. He has been on the Board of Directors for Susan G. Komen of Northeast Ohio for a year. He is married to Kim with two adult children (Brian and Sean). They also have an Old English Sheepdog puppy named Nola, named for New Orleans, Louisiana, his favorite city. He loves music (everything from Beatles to Coltrane and even some new stuff like the Decemberists and Avett bros.) and reading novels.
Laura “Little Fawn” Beemiller
Laura is the Program Director with Haven of Hope, developing programs relevant for those in our community impacted by a cancer diagnosis. She has over 15 years experience as an Oncology Social Worker, having worked in the hospital Oncology unit, then in the outpatient clinic setting. She has worked with the patients and families of Mid Ohio Oncology/Hematology, now known as The Zangmeister Center, for more than a decade. Laura is committed to providing education and emotional support to those now traveling along this journey and works to ensure that all have access to much needed resources within the community.
Dawn “Twiga” Allain
Dawn Allain, is a board certified genetic counselor and Assistant Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine at the Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. Ms. Allain provides genetic counseling services for through the Medical Genetics and Clinical Cancer Genetic Programs in the Division of Human Genetics. On a personal note, she is married and the proud mother of three children; Madeline, Eli and Hayden. Dawn’s support of Camp Kessem is based not only on her professional expertise, but her personal experience. Her dear friend, Judith Helfgott, passed away in 2010 from cancer. Judy was the mother of Eli, whom is now a cherished member of Dawn’s family.
Melissa “Joey” Linton
My name is Melissa Linton (joey). I am 28 years old and I grew up in Vincent, Ohio. I went to Ohio University and received my Bachelor Degree in Fashion Merchandising and moved to Columbus in 2007. I worked in fashion for 2 years and I have been a nanny to 4 boys for the past 3 years. I opened my own out of house business in 2011 called Yellow Duck Cookies which has given me the opportunity to meet and network with so many people in the area. My mother passed away from cancer when i was 17. Being involved in cancer charities has always been a huge thing to me. I walk the Komen Walk every year and I am a volunteer through Imerman’s Angels. I try to honor her in every way possible. I live in Clintonville with a roommate, 2 cats, and my dog. Lola is my kitten and Jules is my Jack Russell. They are my babies I love the Bobcats, Buckeyes, and The Redskins. I am a book nerd and read all the time! I have a brother that lives in the area also.
Wynki “Swoosh” Alston
Wynyki Alston is originally from Greenville, SC and is a veteran of the US Air force. She earned a degree in Business Management. Over the past 9 years, Wynyki has been an at-home-mom to 16 year old Tyler, 8 year old Alex, and 7 year old Haile. Wynyki was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in Feb 2009 and was later treated at the OSU James Cancer Hospital. Since diagnosis, she has committed herself to supporting events that will help fund cancer research at The James. Wynyki doesn’t want to just be known as a survivor. She wants to be known as a survivor who is fighting to help find a cure. Wynyki also had two children that attended camp this past year; Captain Caniac and Rosiey.
Murugu “M&Ms” Manickam:
I’m a clinical geneticist based at both Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State. My medical degree is from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and am in the process of getting a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While I mostly work with diagnosing rare conditions, I am very interested in consciousness of the need to support families through medical issues.
Mike “Juan” Craycraft
Mike is a testicular cancer survivor and founder of the Testicular Cancer Society. He attended Xavier University and then graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy. As a clinical pharmacist he has work in a variety of clinical settings and management positions. He also serves as a Mentor Angel with Imerman Angels and as a 4th Angel Mentor with The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative.
Leslie “Little Bear” Dunlea
Leslie has been a nurse for almost 13 years at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, an outpatient center for breast cancer patients at the Wexner Medical Center.
Alexander “Falcon” Alston III
I am an Officer in the Ohio Air National Guard and Small Business owner in Gahanna. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, coaching youth Club soccer, playing golf, and reading. I was born and raised in Columbia, Maryland and then attended college at The Virginia Military Institute in Lexington before joining the Active Duty Military. I have lived in Ohio for 12 years and enjoy the Gahanna community. I was selected as one of Stepfanie Spielman’s Champions for 2012 for being a caregiver for my wife Wynyki Alston, who was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in Feb 2009. I am also the Father of Captain Caniac (Alexander IV) and Rosie (Haile) attendees of OSU Camp Kesem 2012! Our oldest son Tyler is 16. I am a supporter of MMORE, Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research and Education. This year was my first 50 mile bicycle event for the Ride with MMORE Team during the Pelotonia, truly a great event.
Julie “Dean-O” Dean
Originally from Cincinnati, I graduated from Denison University in Granville, Ohio and have my masters in Public Health from Ohio State. I am Director of Mission at Susan G. Komen Columbus Affiliate, which means I coordinate and direct the funds we raise towards our mission of ending breast cancer, work to spread awareness and education, and work in policy make sure the voices of women facing breast cancer are heard by our government representatives. Both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer while I was in high school and it was my career goal since then to work in advocacy and research for cancer patients and their families. My parents both experienced recurrences while I was in grad school and though my mom is cancer free, my dad’s battle is ongoing and relies heavily on the latest research to keep progressing. Especially as the oldest of six kids, I saw the impact cancer has on a family, both good and bad, and am excited to do what I can to assist with this great program, personally and professionally. At Susan G. Komen we have educational and financial resources, especially our small grants program. Let me know if I can help in any way.
Mandy “Panda” Toland
Amanda Ewart Toland, PhD, FACMG, is an Associate Professor in the Division of Human Cancer Genetics, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics at the Ohio State University and the Division of Human Genetics, Department of Internal Medicine. Her research is focused on the genetics of cancer susceptibility and developing new methods to identify combinations of genetic variants that confer increased cancer risk. She has a strong interest in the use of genetic information for personalized medicine. When not in the lab, she enjoys baking, hiking, and playing with her kids Elsa (age 9) and Adrian (age 6).
Peggy “Snowball” Spear
Snowball was born in New Orleans, La. She has a BS in Biological Sciences Education from the University of New Orleans. Her professional experiences include being a high school biology and chemistry teacher for 4 years, worked in development and facilitation for ten years at the
Sgt. Pepper’s son, Sean Boone is a Criminal Defense Attorney at Mayer Law Firm. Stay tuned for more information on Sean, and hopefully he will pick out a camp name!
Becca “Bubbles” Cotterman
Becca Cotterman is a Program Coordinator at Big Brothers Big Sisters and is also a CKOSU Alumni! How cool is that! Stay tuned for more information on Bubbles!
Rebecca “Chicken Soup” Gill
Rebecca Gill, or Chicken Soup as some of you may know her, is another CKOSU Alumni. She is currently interning for the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Stay tuned for more information on Chicken Soup!
Chris and Christine Pabst
Chris and Christine are CKOSU Parents. They are the parents of our camper Brutus! Chris is a Lieutenant at the Plain City Fire Department, Christine is the Benefits Manager for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. Stay tuned for more information on the Pabsts!
Melissa “Merida” Rotblatt
Melissa Rotblatt attended camp in 2014 as our MHP and also attended The Ohio State University. Stay tuned for more information on Merida!
Aubry “Bear” Vonck
Aubry Vonck is an English Teacher at Utica High School. She is also a CKOSU Alumni. Stay tuned for more information on Bear!