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.
Kashmir Hyder is a Market Development Manager at Intel Corporation. In her current role, she drives global co-marketing initiatives with Microsoft. Prior to joining Intel in 2015, Kashmir was an Account Manager at MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER, a creative advertising agency in San Francisco, where she partnered with clients, such as Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese, AAA, and Salesforce, to build brand awareness for new products and services. Early in Kashmir’s career, she served as a Teach for America corps member and taught 7th grade World History in Oakland, California. Having the honor to teach students was one of Kashmir’s most rewarding experiences and proudest accomplishments. She also enjoys mentoring young adults and participating in local and international service projects. Kashmir attended Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in History.
In her spare time, Kashmir enjoys traveling, listening to a variety of podcasts, and spending time with her significant other, Michael, and five-year-old Shiba Inu, Sebastian.
Christy Vincent is a pediatric Occupational Therapist and Diamond-Award Winning Beach Body Coach. She has an Undergraduate Degree in Respiratory Therapy from The Ohio State University. She holds a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy from The Ohio State University. She works tirelessly to help advocate after watching her friend Alex fight for his life and died from leukemia. She resides in Columbus with her husband and two sons. We are tremendously grateful for the time Christy devotes towards Alex's Sunnyside Playroom.
Lindsay Rerko is a practicing Family Medicine physician in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to being a partner of COPC’s (Central Ohio Primary Care) Westerville Family Physicians, she is a community faculty member with the Grant Family Medicine Residency Program where she teaches obstetrics to the residents and medical students. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is active in her local St. Vincent de Paul organization through St. Michael’s Catholic Church. She’s married to Mike, an orthopedic hand surgeon, and is the mother of four. They love spending time together as a family at the beach. Mike and Lindsay live down the street from the Porters. They are spoiled by Gwendolyn and the girls and cannot imagine better neighbors.
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.
Jess Stevens is a practicing Anesthesiologist for Midwest Physician Anesthesia Services. She had the privilege of meeting Alex in medical school at Wright State University, and then joined his practice in 2014. For 4 years, Jess worked closely with Alex, caring for patients within the greater Columbus area. Alex was not only a mentor for Dr Stevens, but a respected friend and colleague. Jess was an All American NCAA collegiate gymnast, graduating from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science. She attended Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and completed her residency training at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. A Worthington native, she moved home after her training to be closer to her family, friends, and loved ones. She, her husband, and two kids reside in Dublin, OH. She enjoys spending time with her family, walking & biking around Dublin, Ohio State Football, BlueJackets hockey, Browns football, Tarheel basketball, reality TV, and traveling. Jess became inspired about volunteering for Sunnyside Playrooms after witnessing the struggle that Alex, Gwendolyn, and their family went through during his diagnosis and treatment. There is a huge need for continued support and resources for families going through similar fights. It is her hope to continue to honor Alex and his legacy through the organization and its dedication to help those families fighting cancer.
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.
Heather Scholl is a practicing Anesthesiologist with Seven Hills Anesthesia in Cincinnati, Ohio. She became friends with Alex during their first year of medical school at Wright State University. They ended up matching into different specialties. However, it was Alex who encouraged her to switch out of a specialty she didn’t enjoy and match into a field that she loves, Anesthesiology. She graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor of Science and Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She is married and is a mother to four children. They enjoy spending time as a family traveling and doing many outdoor adventure activities. She and The Scholl Family foundation are strong supporters of Alex’s Sunnyside Playroom. It is her mission to honor Alex, and support and provide resources to other families who are facing a similar battle.