Gini Steinke – Founder & Executive Director
In 2005 the need for ovarian cancer education and awareness was growing in our community. Local medical professionals and ovarian cancer survivors were invited to see if there was an interest to form an organization that would target ovarian cancer awareness. In April, a small group of nine women joined around a table at Renee’s Survivor Shop to discuss the need and toss around ideas on how we would get the word out. Four short months later we hosted our first Awareness Walk and plans for a golf outing were underway.
Since that day over a decade ago it has become my passion to grow the OCC through education, awareness and major fundraisers, but most importantly the opportunity to help women fighting ovarian cancer. It’s an honor to provide support, community resources and financial assistance to these women. Without the full backing from our community, our volunteers and the precious board members, the Ovarian Cancer Connection could not have made such an impact in our community in such a short period of time. Thank you!
Kathy Mannon – Board President
My Mom, Mary Lou Davis, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer in 2009 at the age of 68. We were no stranger to this diagnosis, as my Grams, (Mom’s Mom) Evelyn Lawrence also battled Ovarian Cancer. Even still, Mom’s diagnosis caught us off guard. My first encounter with OCC was at a walk. We surprised Mom and rallied a huge team together of family and friends and made incredible memories of a beautiful day honoring her brave fight. We were blessed to get to participate in 4 of those walks, each one a treasured gift. Mom lost her battle 9/13/13, one week before the walk that year. As hard as it was, we still participated just 5 days after her funeral, only this time it was in her memory. I realized right then as I looked around at other women there fighting with everything they have, that this organization gave us treasures, and as soon as I could get myself emotionally together, I wanted to be a part of that effort. The education part has really stood out to me – I don’t want anyone to go through what Mom and Gram did. I want ladies to know the symptoms and listen to their bodies.
It is with a grateful heart for what this group does, and in honor and memory of my precious Momma and Grams, that I asked to be a part of OCC. I have adopted teal as “my color”. I wear multiple pieces of jewelry that say Be Brave, and use those as conversation starters about the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer to anyone who will listen. If I can help in a small way to somehow ease the journey of those battling this stupid ugly disease, it’s my humble honor.
Tina Denker – Financial Secretary
Over the last eight years, two women who are very dear to me were diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. Diagnosed at 41 and 51 years of age – both of them were able to identify the cancer early, receive appropriate treatment and are now cancer free because they listened to their bodies and knew the warning signs. It has been, by no means, an easy journey for either of them, but both are very thankful that they took the time to go to their doctors with their concerns and that they were persistent in finding out what was wrong.
These women are wonderful, strong individuals and the reason why I wanted to be part of Ovarian Cancer Connection. If we, as an organization can help educate and bring awareness to this silent disease, financially support those undergoing treatment and save even just one life, then our efforts are all worth it. I am truly honored to be on the board of the Ovarian Cancer Connection.
Amy Creque Stone- Founding Member and Secretary
In honor and memory of my mom, who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at the age of 49, I am proud to be involved and spread the cause of the Ovarian Cancer Connection. My family participated in the first ovarian cancer walk at Oak Openings Metropark right alongside my mom – the beginning of truly making a difference. It was important to my mom that women listen to their bodies and be familiar enough with symptoms to know when something needs to be investigated.
Spreading awareness by “teeing off for teal” is something close to my heart as my mom loved to golf. The outing is held in June every year. Ovarian cancer has touched so many of my friends and family and I continue to fight for all of them in the hope that a diagnostic test and ultimately a cure can be discovered.
Joan Drzewiecki- Survivor and Community Coordinator
My Ovarian Cancer was discovered by accident. With the good care provided by my GYN-Oncologist, Dr. Garth Phibbs, nursing personnel, the oncology nurses and support from my family and friends I have been very fortunate and am now an eight year survivor. I thank God every day. Therefore, I feel very compelled to “pay it forward”. Through various experiences and my support group I learned about the Ovarian Cancer Connection (OCC).
I am fully supportive of the mission of the OCC. Actively raising awareness, educating the community, providing assistance and advocating for testing and early diagnosis is my way to pay it forward. As a survivor and board member, I am in my small way, attempting to accomplish the mission of the OCC through various events and on-going efforts to reach out to the community. To quote Katy Perry: “You’re going to hear me ROAR”.
Jeanne Wingate- Survivor and Board Member
My name is Jeanne Wingate and I currently serve on the Board of The Ovarian Cancer Connection. As a 16 1/2 year survivor of Ovarian Cancer, the mission of the OCC is my passion of educating and raising awareness to the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer to the community. The OCC also offers an amazing Financial Assistance Program for our survivors who are in treatment and experiencing a financial need. The OCC Board Members have been a source of support and encouragement to myself and we passionately work side by side planning events through out the year including our signature event, the Annual Ellen Jackson Walk in September. The ladies that I have met through these events over the years including the “Let’s Talk it Ovar” Support Group, are friendships that I will cherish forever!
Sherri Denker – Survivor and Board Member
The OCC has given me the opportunity to do something that I am very passionate about, helping ladies with ovarian and other gynecological cancers. I lost my mother in 2016 to Ovarian Cancer, and my sister is still fighting it with 9 recurrences since 2008. In 2010, I was diagnosed with Fallopian Tube Cancer after a hysterectomy in 2010, and my sister and I are both BRCA1 positive. The OCC is a great organization helping ladies struggling through treatments, and also hosting celebrations for survivors.
Nikki Knight Zmijewski – Board Member
I have worked in the medical field ranging from paramedic to nurse practitioner for over 20 years. However, nothing prepared me for the battle my mom would encounter when diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in July of 2015. My mom had a complete hysterectomy 15 years prior to diagnosis of Stage IV Ovarian Cancer. I am here to share my mom’s story and to raise awareness of signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer in hopes of preventing other women from being diagnosed at such an advanced stage. My mom lost her battle in 2016, however, her legacy will live on in every woman I am able to help with her story.
Luanne Strow – Survivor and Board Member
I first became aware of the Ovarian Cancer Connection in 2010 when I participated in my first OCC walk following the completion of my own treatment for ovarian cancer. I received a Stage 3C diagnosis in 2007 after months of silent symptoms that I attributed to the onset of menopause. I am extremely blessed to be a survivor. After seeing and hearing about the work of the OCC and its mission, I knew I wanted to be a part of this organization.
So it was with great pleasure and excitement that I joined the Board of Directors of the Ovarian Cancer Connection in 2017. Through the OCC, I am able to participate in outreach to spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease. This has been a passion of mine. I’m also able to take part in fundraising activities to help with the OCC’s financial assistance programs. This organization continues to do amazing work to support women fighting ovarian cancer.
Charley Linden – Board Member
I am originally from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. I received my BFA from Bowling Green State University in 1992. Shortly after graduation, I began working as a member of the marketing team at Buckeye CableSystem in Toledo, Ohio. In 2002, my supervisor and mentor, Ellen Jackson, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Shortly after, she retired from Buckeye and worked tirelessly to help build the OCC from the ground up along side other equally dedicated women. Over the years, I have helped the OCC with marketing materials for the Annual Ovarian Cancer Walk which later became the “Ellen Jackson Ovarian Cancer Walk” after Ellen’s death in 2010. In 2018, I starting working as a freelance marketing consultant and was elected to the OCC board in July of 2018. I am honored to be working with such an amazing group of people! I live with my husband and 3 dogs in Toledo about a half mile from the OCC offices.
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5577 Airport Hwy. Suite 206, Toledo, Ohio 43615 • 419.866.6622