Advisory Board

We have such an amazing and wonderful Advisory Board this year. We are so appreciative of the contributions that they bring to CKOSU.  Here’s a little information on each of them!

Kristin “Speed Racer” Catton

Kristin graduated from The Ohio State University College of Nursing Summa Cum Laude in 1992. She has been a nurse for over 22 years. She currently works at The James Cancer Hospital. She has been a volunteer LIVESTRONG Leader with the LIVESTRONG Foundation for the last 6 years. She has participated as a rider in the Pelotonia Charity bike ride in central Ohio every year since its inception. She has raised over $30,000.00 for the Pelotonia and other cancer charities. She is a 13 year breast cancer survivor, and she has MS. Her passion is helping others who face adversity in life.

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.
Their son, Danny, attended the inaugural Camp Kesem under the name “Krafty,” but he seeks to be known henceforth as “Dipndot”!

Greg “Sgt. Pepper” Boone

Sgt. Pepper is now a 13-year cancer survivor. He has been a Livestrong Leader for 5 years and has been a board member with Camp Kesem for 3 years. He is also on the Medical Advisory Board of Imerman Angels.

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.

 Wynyki “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. For more than a decade, she has been an at-home-mom to Tyler, Alex, and Haile. Wynyki was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in Feb 2009 and is a current patient 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’s two youngest children have attended camp since its first year: Captain Caniac and Rosiey. Her oldest son Tyler “Cliff” was a CIT last summer and can now serve as a Camp Kesem Counselor.

Alexander “Falcon” Alston III

Alexander Alston  is an Officer in the Ohio Air National Guard and is a Small Business owner in Gahanna.  In his spare time, Alex enjoys spending time with his family, coaching youth Club soccer, playing golf, and reading. He was born and raised in Columbia, Maryland and then attended college at The Virginia Military Institute in Lexington before joining the Active Duty Military. Alex was selected as one of Stepfanie’s Champions in 2012 for recognition on being a selfless caregiver for his wife Wynyki Alston, who was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in Feb 2009. Alex is also the father of Cliff (Tyler), Captain Caniac (Alexander IV) and Rosie (Haile) attendees of OSU Camp Kesem ! He is a supporter of MMORE, Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research and Education. This year Alex completed his third 50 mile bicycle ride with the RideMMORE Team during the Pelotonia, truly a great event.

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.
Graduated from Capital University in 1986.  I have 26 years experience in Oncology, Home Health Care, and agency nursing.  I am married to Tim and we have 4 children, two boys, then two girls, ages 19, 15, 12, and 6, and a 7 year old beagle named “Dot”.  I spend a good amount of my time after work transporting kids to soccer, CCD, cross country, track, wrestling and other school-related activities and when I have time I love to read, cook, garden, bicycle and do artsy things.  I have volunteered at Pelotonia and at the James Stitching Sisters Annual Quilting Day.  I am very excited to be involved in this charity and I want to make a difference in the lives of my patients and their children.

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

Peggy 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
DuPage Children’s Museum science and math programs.  She also worked for Curiosity Zone: science and math enrichment programs and camps in development and facilitation for 5 years and as a tennis and volleyball coach.  She moved to the Columbus area a year ago and is glad to be getting involved in such a wonderful program.

Sean Boone

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, 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 is a two-time graduate of The Ohio State University, earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work degree in 2013 and a Master’s of Social Work degree in 2014. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Melissa currently lives in Columbus and works as a Multi-Systemic Therapist with the Buckeye Ranch.  She volunteered with CKOSU as an MHP in 2014 and has also been involved with the Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Melissa loves baking, musical theatre, and exploring Columbus, and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to Ohio State and support such an outstanding group of students, kids, and families!

Aubry “Bear” Vonck

Aubry is an English teacher at Utica High School. She received her BA in English and M.Ed from Ohio State where she participated in Camp Kesem from 2011-2013. Bear has also volunteered at The James and with The LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Isac “Grapevine” Kunnath

Isac is a Clinical Researcher at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in the Department of Sports Medicine/Orthopedic Surgery. Isac has volunteered with The James Cancer Hospital, The Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals Case Medical Center. He is also a CKOSU Alumni!