Alex was a Buckeye who devoted his life towards helping others. He volunteered on service mission trips to a medical clinic in Juarez, Mexico, during his years at DePauw University, with Special Olympics and Reach Out at Wright State University's Boonshoft Medical School, and he was a Wish Granter at the Central Ohio Make-A-Wish Foundation before becoming ill himself with a life-threatening illness. Alex was unable to shake what he thought was a cold in winter 2017. He was diagnosed with B-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 36. His wife, Gwendolyn, devoted her time caring for Alex for 14 months across 4 hospitals (Riverside Methodist Hospital, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James, University of Chicago Medicine, and Stanford Health Care) in 3 states (Ohio, Illinois, and California). His young children and his wife were his inspiration for fighting the illness until he took his last breath. He was passionate about curing his leukemia, making memories with his children, playing volleyball, hiking, biking, watching football of any sort, playing practical jokes on his family, Guided by Voices, and “the Dude."
Nathan Hand is a professional fundraiser who enjoys helping people help the causes they are passionate about. He has worked for and advised local, national and international organizations and guided philanthropists on strategic giving. He serves as Chief Advancement Officer at The Oaks Academy in Indianapolis, is on the faculty at The Fund Raising School at The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, and is the past State President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Indiana Chapter. He serves on the board of several nonprofit organizations and was selected as the first North American member of Rogare, a new global fundraising think tank based at Plymouth University in the UK. In his spare time he speaks and consults on a variety of topics. Nathan has been quoted in the New York Times, Nonprofit Quarterly, Chronicle of Philanthropy, CNN Money and more. He’s contributed to and edited several articles and texts including Marketing Management for Nonprofit Organizations, Oxford University Press, 3rd ed. Nathan has a masters in Philanthropic Studies from the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, an executive certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University and did his undergraduate work at DePauw University. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Autumn, twin daughters and Jack Russell terrier, Zoey.
David Caldwell is a practicing anesthesiologist for Midwest Physician Anesthesia Services and a consultant for Premier Health Advocates in Columbus, Ohio. He partnered with Alex for more than a decade and watched Alex blossom into the type of doctor any parent would brag about at a social gathering. David is passionate about people and relationships volunteering his time with several non-governmental organizations and travels to places like the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Central African Republic to do medical mission work for those who have no health care. In his travels, David discovered that only through personal relationships can the gaps in providing the care and support to those in need be closed. Furthermore, David discovered that it's not always possible to close all those gaps, but simply through the effort of trying, it gives those in need hope and hope can sustain patients, families, and loved ones for an incredibly long time. It is David's hope that others can benefit from Alex's Sunnyside Playroom by providing the infrastructure and financial support to keep the emotional needs of the entire family supported and together during treatment for a critical illness. When he is not taking care of patients, David likes to do yoga, exercise, golf, surf, take his black labs swimming and most importantly, spend time with his wife and two children.
Marisa Ramirez received an undergraduate degree from University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree in Library Science from University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. She currently resides in California.
Dan Torbeck graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He started his career with Pitney Bowes as a design engineer where he designed bar code scanners and readers. There he authored technical articles and developed two United States and foreign country patents. Dan Torbeck then joined Hewlett Packard as an Account Manager for their Test & Measurement division. He then served as District Sales Manager in the Southern Ohio territory, where he was asked to move to California to become HP’s Global Client Business Manager to Intel worldwide. He finished his 22 years with HP in the position of National Sales Program Manager for HP’s Computer Products Group, Sales General Manager, responsible for all technical computing sales in North America. After leaving HP, Dan Torbeck held Sales management roles with HP resellers Logicalis, Forsythe and Zones. Today he is happily retired, enjoying life with his wife, their three boys, their wives, and four grandsons.
Gwendolyn Porter is the founder of Alex’s Sunnyside Playroom. She is in charge of the vision, mission and expansion of Alex’s Sunnyside Playroom across the United States. She became passionate about this project during her husband’s fight against leukemia, while maintaining his close relationship with his daughters, friends, co-workers and family. She incorporated art projects into visits, brought volleyball and laser tag in the hospital, utilized video technology daily, held inspirational funny contests utilizing fundraising bracelets and hosted seasonal family parties before Alex headed back into the inpatient hospital for treatment. She found it difficult to include the entire support system, especially children, into the cancer fight at adult cancer hospitals. Gwendolyn wants to work tirelessly to close this support gap and to create a place where fighters can stay united with their loved ones, so no one experiences loss of support while a loved one is in the hospital. Gwendolyn has a master's degree in Occupational Therapy where she has worked with children with special needs for 12 years across the NICU/SICU/CICU/PICU in hospitals. She also has a BSBA in Marketing and Finance and worked with Starcom MediaVest and Warner Bros Studios. Gwendolyn has volunteered and chaired fundraising committees with the Make-A-Wish Foundation Central Ohio chapter, Habitat for Humanity Midwest chapters, and Santa Monica Special Olympics.