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ACCO’s Board and Staff


Since 1970 American Childhood Cancer Organization has been respected as an essential and integral provider of programs and services required by families of children and adolescents with cancer across the country. Together with our local affiliates, we address the critical needs that families face today. We believe strongly that families need accurate information, advocacy, and support from the first day of diagnosis through the rest of the child s life. As a grassroots leader in the childhood cancer community, it is our responsibility to speak for the needs of the families and survivors, and to help shape policy, research and programs on the national level that impact the lives of families today and tomorrow.

Our organization was founded by a talented and committed group of parents of children with cancer, and we have placed a priority on ensuring that those making policy decisions today understand what a family goes through when their child has been diagnosed with cancer. Over two-thirds of our organization s Board of Directors and staff are either survivors or a direct family member of a child or adolescent who had cancer. We understand personally that this is a family disease and it is a disease that impacts the family for life. The board and staff of ACCO are committed to serving our community until the day no child dies or is left with life-long effects from this devastating disease.

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Board Members

Ken Wegner, President

Ken ImageMr. Ken Wegner is President of the Jel Sert Company and father of a childhood cancer survivor. Mr. Wegner is the grandson of Jel Sert founders Charles and Lillian Wegner and has worked at Jel Sert since 1985.  A graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, Mr. Wegner has a long and noted history of charitable and philanthropic endeavors, including serving as Chairman of the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, a board member at the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, and membership in WPO – Chicago.

Mr. Wegner’s partnership with ACCO began in 2008 with the introduction of two incredibly important programs in support of childhood cancer awareness.  First, Jel Sert began proudly displaying the gold ribbon, the internationally-recognized awareness symbol for childhood cancer, as well as information about ACCO on their Fla-Vor-Ice freezer pops.  Jel Sert’s support for the Gold Ribbons for Childhood Cancer Awareness now extends to many more of their packaging, including Otter Pops and Pop-Ice.  Second, Jel Sert founded the Take a Pop, Share a Smile program. Recognizing that freezer pops play a critical role in easing the pain of mouth sores, keeping children hydrated, and alleviating many other negative side effects of cancer treatment, Jel Sert generously donates freezers and a continuous supply of freezer pops to cancer treatment centers across the United States. Jel Sert’s ongoing partnership with the ACCO and support of the ACCO’s mission to raise awareness about this disease became personal for Mr. Wegner when his teenage son was diagnosed with cancer in 2011.

Janine Lynne, Vice President

janinebwJanine has been a board member of ACCO since 2003 and is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the largest national grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with cancer. Her teenage son is a survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Janine has worked and volunteered as a child advocate in many capacities over 20 years with a special interest in children with special needs. She has a B.S. in Child Development and Family Studies from Montana State University and pursued graduate work in psychology and education. She currently lives in Hawaii.

Lori Bottoms, Treasurer

lori Lori Bottoms is the Chief Financial Officer of the Jel Sert Company. Prior to joining Jel Sert, Lori was the CFO of private equity-owned companies Peacock Foods (now owned by Hearthside Food), and Audio Visual Services Corporation (PSAV). Lori is a CPA, with a B.S. in Accounting from Northern Illinois University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Lori previously served on the boards of the DuPage County Health Department, Snack it Forward, and Foodstirs. Outside of work, she is the mother to three boys and has been a volunteer with various children and middle school Christian ministries. In attending several Pjammin events over the past years at Jel Sert, Lori witnessed firsthand the great work that is done by ACCO, as well as the unique needs of children with cancer and their families. She brings her passion to help children with special needs as a contributing member of ACCO, as well as her expertise as a CFO to the position of treasurer.

Dr. Greg Aune, MD, PHD, Member

AuneGJ-passport_photoDr. Greg Aune’s interest in pediatric oncology began at age 16 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The experiences he encountered as a patient initiated a path towards a research and clinical career aimed at developing less toxic chemotherapy regimens. His experience as a long-term survivor included open-heart surgery at age 35 to replace his aortic valve and bypass three blocked coronary arteries that were damaged by his teenage cancer therapies. His training to become a successful physician scientist and pediatric oncologist has included time spent at some of the most well-respected oncology institutions in the United States including, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute, and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dr. Aune, MD, PHD directs the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute Shared Resource for Cardiac Function Assessment. In the laboratory setting, Dr. Aune has a wide range of experience in the laboratory approaches to investigate tumor biology and experimental therapeutics. Most recently he has applied this existing knowledge to both the in vitro and in vivo studies of the cardiovascular system from the level of the cardiac fibroblast to global cardiac function. His laboratory has successfully developed a novel pediatric mouse model of anthracycline-induced cardiac toxicity.

Dr. Aune is also the Director of Survivorship Research for the South Texas Pediatric Cancer Survivorship program at University Hospital. In this role, he serves as co-principal investigator and clinical director of the first investigator-initiated survivorship study in the South Texas region. His expertise in the clinical arena is further supported by two recent appointments to national task forces focusing on the cardiac effects of chemotherapy and radiation—National Cancer Institute Community Cardiotoxicity Task Force and the Children’s Oncology Cardiometabolic Task Force. Most recently, Dr. Aune was appointed to the National Cancer Institute Council of Research Advocates (NCRA) which was announced at a White House briefing on childhood cancer.

Rob Biodrowski, Member

biodrowskiRob Biodrowski is Managing Director and Head of Regional Investment Banking Coverage for Wells Fargo & Company. Rob manages the investment banking business generated out of 12 regional offices throughout the U.S. largely driven by the partnership with Commercial Banking and Wealth & Investment Management. Rob also maintains regional client coverage responsibilities across the Midwest.

Rob has more than 20 years of experience in financial services managing investment banking priorities. Rob rejoined Wells Fargo from Citigroup, where he was head of Midwest Investment Banking and also led the middle market investment banking coverage effort across North America.

Rob’s commitment to ACCO’s mission is deeply embedded in his own personal experience as the father of a childhood cancer survivor who was diagnosed at one year of age. With more than 20 years of executive leadership, Rob is committed to supporting ACCO’s current initiatives, and to bringing new ideas and collaborations to the board and ACCO team.

Judy Mendoza, Member

Judy Mezoa Judy Mendoza grew up in Lafayette, IN, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Indiana University in May 1993. Subsequent teaching jobs led her to the corporate world of an education publishing company and then to the formation of her own free-lance education business. In February 2007, Judy and her husband Michael’s lives changed forever. It was then when they learned that their three-and-a-half-year-old daughter had Stage IV neuroblastoma. After supporting her daughter Abigail through six cycles of high dose chemotherapy, followed by a stem cell transplant, twelve radiation sessions, and a very rough clinical trial with monoclonal antibodies, Judy now regards herself as a proud Cancer Mom on a Mission. Judy lives by the premise that she continues to teach her children to never give up! Judy is active in raising awareness of the gold ribbon for childhood cancer.

Steve Payne, Member

stevepayneSteve Payne is an active board member and father to Kristin, a stage IV neuroblastoma survivor diagnosed at a mere seven months old. Being an active part of the ACCO board, he is able to support those children, families, and professionals nationwide who battle this dreaded disease until a cure is found. Steve works for IBM and served as president in 2003 & 2004. Read about Steve’s commitment to ACCO here.


Aaron Price, Member

Aaron Price serves as a Regional President within CRH, a global building materials and construction company. He leads CRH’s Americas Materials Texas Region, which comprises aggregate, asphalt and ready-mix concrete production as well as asphalt paving and construction operations across the state.

Aaron got his start in the asphalt industry over 20 years ago beginning with his first job as an asphalt laborer at the age of 17. From there, he worked his way up through a variety of roles in estimating, project management and operations, and finally into executive leadership. Aaron’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Michigan and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame.

Aaron is humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve on ACCO’s board and to help reinforce its mission within the CRH family of employees. Like many families, Aaron’s is no stranger to the devastation of cancer. The losses he has experienced as well as the inspiration of his sister, who works in the pediatric oncology space, makes ACCO’s work all the more meaningful to him.

Jeff Walters, Member

Jeff CroppedJeff Walters is Vice President, Business Strategy with Salesforce where he is responsible for the sales and delivery of digital transformation services to the Manufacturing, Automotive & Energy Sectors. In his professional career, Jeff helps organizations to maximize their efficiency and impact and he brings that same passion to his work with ACCO. Jeff holds a Masters of Business Administration from the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Jeff and his wife Valeria live in Chantilly, Virginia with their two daughters.

ACCO Staff Members

Ruth I. Hoffman MPH – Chief Executive Officer

Ruth is the mother of eight children, including Naomi, who is a survivor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia, (diagnosed in 1987 at the age of 7), and a radiation-induced secondary cancer. Since 1999, Ruth has been the CEO of the National office of the American Childhood Cancer Organization. She is immediate Past-President of Childhood Cancer International (CCI).

Nationally, Ruth has spent more than thirty years raising awareness and strengthening advocacy of childhood cancer. As one of a handful of women who founded the gold ribbon for childhood cancer, Ruth has expanded recognition of that symbol nationally and internationally, as well as originated the campaigns, “GO GOLD®” and “PJammin for Kids with Cancer®.” She is co-founder of America’s largest childhood cancer awareness event entitled “Light Up the Holidays with Hope.” Ruth has participated as a patient representative for the FDA where she has served on ODAC as well as the pediatric subcommittee of ODAC. She is a founding member of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer. 

Internationally, Ruth works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2017, she was the invited guest speaker at the United Nation’s launch of the WHO’s Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer. In 2018, while President of Childhood Cancer International, Ruth formalized the official relationship between the WHO and CCI, and in 2020 created CCI working groups aligned with WHO’s regional offices. She also formalized an MOU with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2018. From 2018 to 2020 Ruth led a three-year global awareness campaign during International Childhood Cancer Day. The “no-more” campaign focused on the need for no more complacency, no more pain, no more loss and no more borders for children with cancer around the world, working towards the goal of a 60% global survival of childhood cancer by 2030. Through Ruth’s compassion for children with cancer in developing countries, Ruth provides funding for nutrition programs in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Myanmar. Alongside Dr. Avram Denburg, Ruth is cofounder of ACCESS, a research initiative to assess and overcome the barriers to accessing essential medicines in five East African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Rwanda.) 

Ruth’s leadership has resulted in the publication of twelve books for children with cancer, their family members and teachers. She is the author of three journals―one for children diagnosed with cancer, one for teens, and the other for parents. She is editor of three comprehensive resources including Educating the Child with Cancer, Understanding the Journey, A Parent’s Guide to DIPG, and A Parent’s Guide to Enhancing Quality of Life in Children with Cancer. More than 10,000 copies of these books are provided without charge to children with cancer and their families across the U.S. each year.

Ruth has personally responded to thousands of requests for childhood cancer information. She is the proud recipient of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Tree of Life Award which honors an individual who has played a major or lasting role, with national impact in improving the quality of life for patients with cancer and their families.

Ruth received her BA in Psychology and her Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and Masters of Public Health at George Washington University’s School of Medicine.

Anya Broverman-Wray – Creative Director 

With more than a decade of experience in the creative industry, Anya comes to ACCO with a myriad of expertise. Anya’s positive attitude and collaborative nature make her the ultimate teammate when it comes to designing anything for a campaign. 

Anya’s design reach is international with her most recent project going to the World Health Organization. She developed a logo for the World Health Organization’s “Cure All” campaign which launched on February 15, 2021. Her graphics for ICCD have been translated and circulated internationally. 

On any given day, Anya can be found doodling or drawing figures of Cozy, the Port-a-cat and various other creatures for ACCO. She works as ACCO’s web manager and graphic designer, but she does so much more. Anya works tirelessly to create engaging graphics for corporate campaigns with companies like Amazon. When it comes time to designing the September shirts campaign, she comes with lots of ideas and lets her mind run wild. Anya can also be found doing occasional writing for ACCO and coding. 

Anya’s creative background started in middle school when she got familiar with Adobe Illustrator. She works with many mediums including ceramics, pottery and jewelry making. Before ACCO, Anya was a freelance illustrator and worked in advertising and branding. She is no stranger to non-profits, she volunteered as a camp counselor with Wiser Girls, an organization that empowers and educates Kenyan girls. 

Anya graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Illustration.

Blair Scroggs – Public Relations Coordinator

Blair started working with ACCO in 2018 after accepting the Social Media Manager position. She was thrust into the childhood cancer community just a week before September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) started, and hit the ground running. 

The first campaign Blair worked on was the launch of the Amazon “GO GOLD®” prime airplane giving her vital knowledge about the community and the power of social media. From there, she navigated the popular September CCAM Shirts Campaign and several other campaigns throughout the year. 

Blair engaged the community on social media by writing weekly Gold Ribbon Hero stories. With an extensive writing background, Blair was able to feature more stories about children through the Hope and Healing campaign for ICCD in 2019.  She has since used her talents to transform ACCO’s social media and engage the community even more. 

In 2019, Blair took six months off to explore other opportunities but ultimately came back to ACCO in the Public Relations Coordinator position. Even though Blair has no personal ties to childhood cancer, she is passionate about raising awareness and funding programs for the kids. Her life has been forever impacted by these brave heroes, especially after meeting a few in person. 

In 2020, Blair successfully ran a staggering CCAM shirt sale with more than 7000 sold. In response to COVID, Blair started a weekly engagement series called “Circle Up” featuring childhood cancer warriors and professionals doing what they do best. This popular series featured Steven the Cancer Crusher cooking for ACCO, Grace doing Yoga, and read alongs by pageant winners. Blair continues to work with the team to create compelling campaigns for the community. 

Before ACCO, Blair’s background was in retail, management and public relations. She was able to pivot that experience and excellent follow through into both roles at ACCO, bringing a different perspective to the team. With her retail background, Blair was able to use her customer service skills to engage with the community both online and in person. With her public relations background, she was able to use her design skills and writing expertise to enhance ACCO’s social media.

Blair proudly received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a major in Public Relations and minor in Journalism.

Samantha Clary, Signature Events Coordinator

Samantha has been passionately engaging, creating positive change, and encouraging the wellness of children for many years. She started as a camp counselor while in high school and continued throughout college. After earning her Bachelors of Arts degree in Film and Media Studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, she continued working in early childhood education at every stage of development.

Samantha was nominated for the Howard County Excellence in Teaching award in 2017. During this time she taught Kindergarten at the Goddard Child Development Center on the NASA Goddard Campus. While teaching at NASA, she earned a plethora of training certificates specifically geared towards social emotional intelligence in school age children. She mentored colleagues by promoting social emotional wellness techniques in the classroom, maintaining open communication and productive dialogue between children, teachers, and families, as well as instructing how to effectively manage conflicts and confrontations creatively and thoughtfully.

After being furloughed in June of 2020 as a result of COVID shut downs, Samantha knew that the time had come to start focusing a bit more on her own well-being. She stayed out of the classroom, but continued pouring her passion towards nurturing children in alternative avenues: she performed behavior therapy for children with autism and tutored children ranging from ages 4-17. Additionally, she began spending more time out in nature – working first with plants at a small nursery, then at a local farm.

Samantha approaches everything she does with curiosity, tenacity, and genuinity. While she may be a former educator, she is a lifelong learner that aims to align her passions with her goals. Here at ACCO, she has not only achieved that balance, but is now able to elevate her passion and dedication to support children diagnosed with cancer.

Having recently moved out of Maryland, Samantha has shifted from being ACCO’s Resource Manager to her position as Signature Events Coordinator.

Jessica Beckstrand – Director, ‘What About Kids?’ State Research Initiative

Jessica’s passion for promoting pediatric cancer awareness and fundraising for cancer research came after her then-18-month-old daughter, Layla, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. Having endured almost 2 years of chemotherapy, surgeries, radiation, tandem stem cell transplants, and the miracle of immunotherapy, Jessica decided there was work to do to help the cause.

Jessica started her advocacy efforts by asking her mayor in Marysville, Washington to do a proclamation for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in honor of her daughter Layla. That success led to more and more Mayors joining the cause every year. When Jessica moved to Northern Virginia in 2020, she started collaborating with ACCO’s “What About Kids?” state initiative. She brings her expertise as a parent advocate, advisor for newly diagnosed children with cancer, bone marrow donor advocate, and dedicated blood donor (Layla received 36 blood transfusions) as well as a fundraising speaker to the role of ACCO’s Director of ‘What About Kids?’ Research Initiative.

Jessica moved back to her home state of Utah in 2023 with her husband, Mike, and they are the parents of two vibrant, energetic kids, Owen an 8th grader, and Layla a 5th grader as well as their new puppy, Luna. As of February 2024, Layla will be 7 years post-treatment with little side effects from her treatment. In their free time, Jessica and her family volunteer to clean up the parks and common areas of Salt Lake County and are active in Scouting America. Jessica and her family also enjoy hiking, traveling, exercising, camping, and trying new foods.

Hannah Adams – ‘What About Kids?’ State Ambassador & Coordinator

Hannah is currently a junior at The University of Alabama double-majoring in Political Science and Public Relations. She is involved in the Student Government Association, The Blackburn Institute, Alpha Gamma Delta Psi Chapter, among many other organizations as well as was named a Truman Scholar National Finalist. When Hannah Adams was five and a half years old, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Nephroblastoma, which meant that a softball-sized cancerous tumor was enveloping her left kidney. After radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and surgery, she was declared cancer-free over fourteen years ago!

Hannah has served as an ambassador for various non-profit pediatric cancer organizations. She helped raise over $30 million for pediatric cancer research, spoke nationally at 40 hospitals, and connected with thousands of brave pediatric cancer fighters.

In 2019, Hannah won Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen through the Miss America Organization. At the national competition, she was awarded the “Teens In Action Award” for her lifelong dedication to ending pediatric cancer. This past year, Hannah placed Third-Runner Up at Miss Alabama 2023 and won the Overall Evening Gown Award and the Catherine Crosby Community Service Award. Hannah currently serves as Miss Mobile Bay 2024 and will be returning to the Miss Alabama stage in June 2024!

To further her knowledge about policymaking, Hannah has worked on various successful political campaigns and in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has lobbied on Capitol Hill since 2016 for increased pediatric cancer research funding to help pass federal pediatric cancer legislation.

Hannah joined ACCO’s “What About Kids?” initiative in 2021, where she has been working with the team toward passing state-level pediatric cancer legislation by partnering with legislators and advocates. Hannah will continue fighting for a day without pediatric cancer and is excited to continue working with the American Childhood Cancer Organization.

Amy Kindstedt – ‘What About Kids?’ State Ambassador & Coordinator

When Amy was seven years old, she was thrown into the world of childhood cancer with a diagnosis of type III Pleuropulmonary Blastoma, a rare and aggressive pediatric lung tumor. Amy endured intense treatment, including sixteen months of chemo, six weeks of daily radiation, and multiple surgeries, including the complete removal of her left lung. She still lives with just one lung today, but for the most part, she can do all the things she loves, like running track and cross country!

Amy is now ten years post-diagnosis and is passionate about using her story to help create change in the world of childhood cancer, a cause that has deeply affected her and her family. Amy has lobbied on Capitol Hill multiple times for increased federal funding and research and has had the honor of sharing her story in a variety of settings. Amy is passionate about making the world more aware of childhood cancer by supporting the kids fighting today and fighting for change for the ones who will fight tomorrow. She has been part of ACCO’s “What About Kids?TM” advocacy program as a State Advocacy Ambassador and Coordinator since 2021 and is excited about the program’s future.

Amy lives in New Hampshire and is currently a Senior in High School. She is excited to continue her education post-high school, studying political science and public policy at the University of New Hampshire. In her free time, she enjoys creative activities such as watercolor painting and calligraphy, as well as the beach in the summer and a cup of tea with a good book in the winter.

Elizabeth (Liz) Turner – Kentucky Coordinator, ‘What About Kids?’ Research Initiative

Elizabeth is the bereaved mother of David Jr. In 2018 at age 6 David Jr. was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), pediatric brain cancer. Being told your child has cancer is something a parent never prepares for. To be told your child will not survive the disease is unfathomable. After more than three years of living with DIPG David Jr. died in May 2021 at age 9. Experiencing childhood cancer through the eyes of her child led Elizabeth to become a passionate childhood cancer advocate.

Throughout David Jr’s cancer journey he shared his “catchphrase” – Make Every Day The Best Day Ever! It is now Elizabeth’s mission to share David Jr’s message of hope and love each day as David Jr; Making every day the best day ever.

Elizabeth is ACCO’s Regional Coordinator in Kentucky, where she serves as the Chair of the Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund—an appointment made in September, 2023 by Governor Andy Beshear. In addition to reviewing state-funded research grant applications, Liz represents the voice of families, leads awareness campaigns and advocates for KY families impacted by childhood cancer.

Elizabeth develops community relationships and connects peer-to-peer with cancer families. She is a skilled and authentic public speaker. Elizabeth was appointed to the Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund (KPCRTF) by Governor Beshear in June 2021. She leads a team of members as the Awareness Committee Chair planning events, leading awareness campaigns, and advocating for all families impacted by cancer. In 2022 Elizabeth was unanimously elected chair of the KPRTF and reappointed by the Governor. Elizabeth also serves as a committee member for the Norton Patient and Family Advisory Council focusing on positively impacting the patient experience.

Elizabeth is solution-oriented with nearly 20 years of professional experience in the transportation and logistics industry. Throughout her career, she has focused on the health, wellness, and safety of employees. Providing support to international operations, managing compliance programs, and training. Elizabeth graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing Minor.

Scott Kaas – Iowa Coordinator, ‘What About Kids?’ Research Initiative

Scott’s involvement with pediatric cancer awareness began in 2004 when he met a family at church whose child had been diagnosed with brain cancer. That family started a charitable organization and over the last 20 years, Scott has supported their mission of patient/family financial support and the funding of pediatric cancer research.

A life changing event took place on July 28th, 2023 when Scott and Brooke’s daughter Devyn was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Devyn, having been their miracle baby, was one day shy of 8 months old when diagnosed. Devyn was treated at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. While Devyn was inpatient for her treatment over 153 days, Scott and Brooke lived at the hospital with her, giving Scott the opportunity to ask questions about cancer research, meet the doctors and research scientists, and tour the cancer research labs in an attempt to understand how and why. The unfortunate answer of, “We don’t know how or why.” led to their desire to do more. A local TV station interview led to a meeting with Jessica Beckstrand and grew into advocacy for state funded pediatric cancer research not only for Devyn, but the kids of Iowa who have, had or will be diagnosed with cancer.

Scott has 2 older kids, Mat is in the trades as a plumber and Sarah will be a Iowa Hawkeye in the fall on her road to become a teacher. The family was blessed with their first grandchild, Mat’s daughter Nalani was born in September of 2023. After Deyvn’s treatment was completed 2 days after Christmas, her family was told Devyn is in remission on February 8th of 2024. Devyn has a long road ahead before being cured, but her care team, family, friends and everyday strangers remain optimistic for her future. Scott, Brooke and family reside in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Alayna Wilson – Nebraska Coordinator, ‘What About Kids?’ Research Initiative

Alayna’s involvement in childhood cancer began when she lost a close friend due to childhood leukemia in 2019. Alayna has volunteered with ACCO since 2022 and has helped draft, testify, and codify Legislative Bill 802 in the Nebraska legislature. This bill catapulted childhood cancer research in the state, securing $4.5 million for the University of Nebraska Medical Center Board of Regents.

Her commitment to this cause does not fall short, even as she is an active PhD student at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is ecstatic to be part of this national organization that truly puts the kids first.

Jeff Brown – Indiana Coordinator, ‘What About Kids?’ Research Initiative

Jeff comes to ACCO and What About Kids? as the father of not one, but two children who were diagnosed just months apart with different, life-threatening cancers. Jeff dedicates his time to advocating for legislation, raising awareness, and strengthening advocacy of childhood cancer. His advocacy is motivated by a lack of funding for childhood cancer research and a desire to ensure that no child should ever face cancer and no parent should ever hear the words “I’m sorry, your child has cancer.”

Like most parents, Jeff and his wife Melissa never imagined that both of their children would be forever affected by childhood cancer. On August 23, 2019, their daughter Samantha, who was six years old at the time, was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a very rare form of kidney cancer which required removal of her left kidney and twenty rounds of chemotherapy treatment. Shortly thereafter, on December 13, 2019, their son Miles, who was two years old at the time, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia, a fast-growing and aggressive cancer, and he spent fifty-four straight days in the hospital and underwent six months of in-patient chemotherapy. Samantha and Miles were both successfully treated and have been cancer-free for the past four years.

Jeff and his family live in Westfield, Indiana and active participants in school, community, and sports. Jeff is also a seasoned attorney having worked in both government and the private sector for the past twenty years. Jeff received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy from Michigan State University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law.

Hunter Widvey – South Dakota Coordinator, ‘What About Kids?’Research Initiative

Hunter has been with ACCO since 2022. She first learned about pediatric cancer while in middle school, when she lost a classmate to the disease. Since then, she has grown passionate about advocating for pediatric cancer research and resources. During her undergraduate education, she wrote her Government and International Affairs Honors Thesis about the role of the federal government in funding pediatric cancer research, and she volunteered weekly at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She built upon her passion of increasing funds and resources for pediatric cancer patients by making “Pediatric Cancer Awareness” her social impact initiative while serving the state as Miss South Dakota 2022, where she worked alongside ACCO to create legislation in South Dakota to support childhood cancer patients and survivors.

Hunter is now attending medical school in Iowa with the hope of serving rural areas as a family medicine physician. She continues her legislative efforts while in school and plans to continue this work as a future physician. She double majored in Biology and Government/International Affairs in college and continues her legislative efforts while in medical school because she believes having knowledge in both government and healthcare continues to grow in importance. She looks forward to continuing her work with ACCO in hopes of one day finding a way to prevent pediatric cancer altogether.

Alana Phillips – Tennessee Coordinator, ‘What About Kids?’ Research Initiative

Alana has been a childhood cancer mama for 10 years. Her daughter, Tillery, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014 when she was 15 months old. Since diagnosis, Tillery has been treated at 4 hospitals, had 19 surgeries, IV and oral chemo for 6 years, and countless hospital stays. Childhood cancer has impacted every aspect of the Phillips family’s life.

Alana volunteers with multiple childhood cancer organizations and hosts fundraisers throughout the year to support the cause. She has advocated in Washington DC during Childhood Cancer Action Days through the ACCO and most recently partnered with other TN cancer moms to push to get a childhood cancer awareness license plate in the state of Tennessee.

Alana has been married to her husband Joe for 16 years and they have 2 kids, Luke and Tillery. They live in Knoxville, TN with their dog, Baylee, and cat, Uno.

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