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Volunteer Spotlights

  • Duane Stoner at a Fill the Boot event.

    Duane Stoner

    Decades of Dedication 

    Duane Stoner took on a leadership role within the Fill the Boot (FTB) program on behalf of MDA, when the fire station he in which he worked became involved in the initiative. MDA’s mission resonated with Duane on a personal level, as he had a cousin who lived with a neuromuscular disease and battled cancer. Witnessing hers, and other’s struggle, Duane became deeply involved in MDA's mission to support people facing neuromuscular diseases. His commitment stems from a desire to make a tangible difference in the lives of those living with muscular dystrophy and to honor the memories of those who have passed away. 

    Duane's passion is exemplified through his active participation in several campaigns, most notably the FTB campaign in Canby, Oregon. As a dedicated committee member for station L1159, Duane has consistently demonstrated his leadership capabilities. Since his inaugural involvement in FTB, Duane has taken on vital roles, serving as the primary liaison to MDA and coordinating efforts for his station's fundraising initiatives. A few years ago, he connected with Woodburn DragStrip to expand his outreach, and now hosts an MDA booth at drag races, educating participants and fans about MDA's mission. Beyond the two annual FTB events he leads, this year Duane plans to host a DIY chili cook-off or golf tournament to support MDA.  

    In his free time, Duane loves spending time with his two children and two grandchildren and enjoys weightlifting to alleviate stress. He also enjoys leisurely activities like visiting the beach, browsing antique shops, or grabbing a drink at Dutch Bros Coffee, an organization that shares his commitment to the NMD community. 

    Fun fact, Duane's excitement for MDA events often leads to him losing his voice throughout the event, highlighting his unwavering dedication and passion for MDA's mission. Through his tireless efforts and genuine care, Duane demonstrates the spirit of volunteerism and community support, making a lasting impact on the lives of those affected by neuromuscular diseases. 

  • Marygrace and Jackie on a recliner.

    Marygrace Horner

    A Journey of Purpose and Hope

    Marygrace Horner joined the MDA volunteer team after experiencing a very personal connection to the community. Her grandson, Jackie, was born in 2020, and his first year of life was marked by numerous challenges. Genetic testing later revealed that he has a rare disease that is part of MDA’s diverse portfolio of conditions. Motivated by the desire to contribute to the organizations efforts and support families facing similar situations, Marygrace became a volunteer beginning in 2022 during the Twin Cities Muscle Walk. After that initial event, her involvement extended beyond just the Muscle Walk, as she actively participates in the yearly Shamrocks Campaign and remains committed to contributing to the organization’s initiatives. Marygrace says, “the personal connection to my grandson and witnessing the impactful work of MDA’s dedicated team has inspired me to continue my volunteer efforts.”

    On a personal note, Marygrace has two daughters, and they all reside in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. Professionally, she works in IT, which has provided a foundation of expertise that effectively contributes to the Shamrocks Campaign. Outside of her professional and volunteer roles, Marygrace is an enthusiastic gardener, channeling intense efforts to her garden during the warmer months. In Winter, she shifts her focus to planning future garden projects and knitting.

    Volunteering with MDA not only provides crucial support in enhancing the mission but can be a therapeutic and inspiring experience for volunteers. Whether personally connected to muscular dystrophy like Marygrace, or simply passionate to help, the connection made by providing a source of strength and empowerment stemming from a difficult situation is undeniable. Marygrace, thank you for your commitment to your family and others in the MDA community. We greatly appreciate your ongoing support and enjoy working with you.

  • Cindy Kief at MDA Muscle Walk.

    Cindy Kief

    Newspaper Ad Leads to 23-Year Commitment

    Cindy Kief’s summer break became a life-changing experience when she came across an ad in the newspaper seeking volunteers for MDA Summer Camp. With her background as an occupational therapist specializing in working with kids with disabilities, Cindy sensed this would be a good fit. Within just two hours of setting foot at camp, Cindy was captivated. This marked the beginning of Cindy’s remarkable 23-year commitment to camp and the community we serve. Reflecting on her journey, Cindy fondly shares, “I fell in love with the philosophy of inclusion and kids connecting over shared experiences. No one felt different, everybody was the same and no one was judged.” Over the years, Cindy assumed the role of cabin leader, shaping the camp experience for many. She also supported campers grappling with homesickness or struggling to adjust and became the go-to person when emotional challenges arose. Cindy is still connected to several former campers, now adults, and has built wonderful friendships. From shared meals to football games, Cindy's journey is a testament to the profound bonds created within at Summer Camp.

    Cindy has three children and eleven grandchildren. She describes herself as a true “camper” who loves outdoors activities such as camping, hiking, and biking. Cindy also enjoys traveling.

    Thank you, Cindy, for the profound impact you have made within the MDA community. Your dedication to inclusion and creating a space where everyone feels accepted is invaluable. Summer Camp volunteers are full of compassion, creativity and adaptability - much like Cindy has displayed.

    Join Cindy and Experience the Magic of Summer Camp

  • Laura Brown speaking at an event.

    Laura Brown

    From Philanthropy to Inspiration – Laura’s Journey with MDA

    In Laura Brown’s role as the Community Engagement and Foundation Operations Manager at the Oregon Community Credit Union (OCCU), she is an integral member of the OCCU Foundation, the philanthropic department of the organization. In 2022, the OCCU Foundation received an invitation from a committee member to sponsor MDA’s Mike Bellotti Toast to Strength Gala and Golf Tournament. Without hesitation, OCCU eagerly embraced this opportunity to become a sponsor and connect with MDA. Laura was selected to represent the foundation as the committee’s volunteer coordinator/recruiter at this event, and with great enthusiasm recruited twenty coworkers to volunteer with her at her first Bellotti Gala and Golf Tournament. Going forward, Laura has continued this commitment of participating and recruiting around twenty coworkers. Laura’s experience of volunteering for MDA left an indelible mark on her. Although she didn't have a personal connection to MDA, Laura found herself deeply moved and inspired by the warmth and resilience of the community. Laura explains, “It's remarkably easy to support and volunteer for MDA. This incredible community's spirit and determination is inspiring.”  

    Laura is married to her high school sweetheart, Dillon, and has a two-year-old daughter, Holland. Laura enjoys spending time outdoors, specifically hiking and camping. Laura loves baking, which her daughter has quickly embraced too. Together, they make all kinds of delicious treats! A fun fact about Laura is that her favorite restaurant is the Waffle House. 

    MDA extends our gratitude for the invaluable support we receive from our organizational partnerships. We greatly appreciate Laura and other dedicated team members who donate their time to MDA. We are looking forward to seeing you at the 2024 Mike Bellotti Toast to Strength Gala and Golf Tournament. 

    Join Laura and Encourage Your Coworkers to Volunteer

  • Deb Klier eating lunch in front of a lake..

    Deb Klier

    39 Years and Counting: Memories at MDA Summer Camp in Minnesota

    Nurse Deb Klier's journey with MDA Summer Camp began in 1982 when a colleague, who had volunteered as a physician the previous year, introduced her to the experience. Little did Deb know, this introduction would mark the beginning of her remarkable 39-year (and counting) journey as a dedicated camp volunteer. Deb fondly says, "MDA Camp is the best way to start my summer."

    Through her years of service, Deb formed some of her closest friendships within the camp community. Her bond with campers is equally profound, making it challenging to bid farewell at the end of each week. However, the anticipation of reuniting with her camp family fuels her excitement year after year. In 2012 Deb had the inspiring idea to create scrapbooks for graduating campers. Since then, each graduate receives a personal book which serves as a tribute to the memorable summers they've shared. Beyond her invaluable role during summer camp weeks, Deb also has extended her volunteering spirit to MDA Telethons and Muscle Walks.

    Deb shares her life with her husband Howie, celebrating 29 years of marriage. She holds a nursing degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and finds solace in reading and nurturing her garden. She enjoys crafting garden art and decorative glass items using fused glass.

    MDA Summer Camp wouldn’t be possible without people like Deb. Each summer, hundreds of volunteers serve as counselors and medical team members to help make camp a safe, fun, and an amazing experience for all participants. Thanks, Deb, for adding those extra special touches to make camp even more memorable.

  • Lisa Straface wearing a pink scarf.

    Lisa Straface

    Difficult Diagnosis Begins Meaningful Journey

    Lisa Straface began volunteering for MDA six years ago after her son, Matt, was diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. While this announcement came as a shock to the family, Lisa quickly turned the difficult diagnosis into a time of action, saying, “I wanted to help those with muscular dystrophy by raising funds to find a treatment or cure for these diseases.”

    Since Matt’s diagnosis, Lisa has become an avid MDA donor, fundraiser, advocate, and volunteer. Lisa has volunteered at numerous MDA Muscle Walks and galas, cheered on her two sons and sister at the 2017 and 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon while they ran on behalf of MDA’s Team Momentum, and is a member of MDA’s Volunteer Advisory Committee and the Chicago Toast to Life Gala committee. As an advocate, Lisa raises awareness about the struggles her son and others in the community face, specifically calling attention to the ongoing challenges around inaccessibility.

    Lisa and her husband, Charlie, have three sons. In her free time, Lisa loves to be active and play sports, including golf, tennis and skiing. Most recently, Lisa joined the pickleball craze, which she added to her list of favorite sports. A fun fact about Lisa is that she recently retired after spending 15 years coaching the high school varsity girls' tennis team at Nazareth Academy.

    Lisa, your journey is a testament to the power of turning adversity into action. Your profound impact on the MDA community is truly commendable. Your story reminds us that in the face of challenges, our resilience and determination can move us forward and inspire others to join us on the path to a better, more inclusive future.

  • Tom Simon with family.

    Tom Simon

    Passion for MDA Summer Camp – 30 Years & Counting!

    Tom Simon’s journey with MDA began in 1988 when he started working for the company Service Merchandise. In 1992, Tom had the privilege of visiting MDA Summer Camp on their behalf. It was during this visit Tom immediately felt the “magic” and applied to volunteer that very next summer at Camp John Marc in Dallas. Tom remembers feeling both nervous and excited, but the nervousness diminished the minute Tom met the camper he was partnered with for the week. The two quickly formed a bond and spent the next five summers together! Tom also volunteered at camps in Alaska and Oregon, saying “While the camps themselves were very different, the feeling was the exact same.” Tom has remained dedicated and has volunteered at MDA Summer Camp for the last 30 years! He is excited to get involved in new ways, now as a board member. "I feel humbled and blessed to continue being part of the organization I love and grew up with."

    Tom has been married to his wife, Staci, for 25 years and has four grandchildren. Staci and Tom enjoy traveling and gardening together. Their favorite places to visit are Lauter Brunnen in Switzerland, and Notre Dame in Paris, which is the place of their engagement.  

    We are thrilled Tom's experience volunteering with MDA has been so rewarding. One amazing benefit of volunteering is that it can create lasting relationships that go beyond one week of summer camp. We're grateful to Tom for helping make summer camp so magical! 

    Join Tom and Become a Volunteer Today

  • Leslie Nelson headshot.

    Leslie Nelson

    The Magic of Summer Camp for Volunteers

    While studying to be a physical therapist, Leslie Nelson was given the opportunity to volunteer at MDA Summer Camp. Leslie remembers feeling quite nervous! However, that changed instantly once she was introduced to the campers. “The moment the kids arrived, I found a new love and passion. The kids I met that year at camp were life-changing for me,” said Leslie. “They taught me many lessons that I could apply not only as a physical therapist, but for living life to the fullest and striving to have a positive outlook on every situation.” That first summer in 2002 turned into a 20-year-plus commitment to MDA Summer Camp. This experience was so meaningful for Leslie that she even changed her career path. After graduating Physical Therapy school, Leslie began specializing in treatment and evaluation of neuromuscular disorders.

    Leslie lives in Dallas and has a dog and cat. She enjoys the outdoors, specifically hiking and being near water. In her spare time, Leslie enjoys painting. A fun fact about Leslie is that she recently traveled through Tokyo!

    Leslie, thank you for your commitment, passion, and talent. We are grateful for all your support, including your most recent volunteering at 2023 MDA Summer Camp in June. The impact you have on the kids and young adults at MDA Summer Camp and patients you serve with neuromuscular disorders is invaluable.

  • Patty Beumer with her family.

    Patty Beumer

    Telethon Ignites a Lifelong Commitment to MDA

    MDA volunteer, Patty Beumer, began volunteering with MDA at the first ever MDA Telethon in 1966. Patty’s sister was volunteering on behalf of the philanthropic sorority Sigma Phi Gamma, and kindly invited Patty to tag along. Patty fondly remembers answering phone calls throughout the night. She volunteered for the telethon for many years and went on to recruit family members and friends. Patty felt so passionate about MDA’s mission, she decided she would do all she could for MDA until there was a cure for neuromuscular diseases. Patty kept true to her promise and has volunteered in many capacities, including Muscle Walks, Fill the Boot, golf and gala events.  

    Patty wanted her children to understand the value of volunteering and compassion for others and would bring them with her when she donated her time to MDA. Through her volunteering, Patty made lifelong friendships with families in the MDA community and became a source of comfort and support to them during their journey. Reflecting on these relationships, Patty says “I have met so many amazing people and unfortunately lost many of those amazing people.” While many tears have been shed, Patty also acknowledges the tears of joy as research progresses and treatments become more available. To this day, Patty’s commitment to MDA has not waivered. She continues to volunteer and now brings her grandchildren with her.  

    Patty is married to David, and together they have two sons, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. Patty is retired and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, including watching sports together and hosting sleepovers. When not with her grandchildren, she crochets and reads. A fun fact about Patty is that she is still a member of Sigma Phi Gamma, the philanthropic sorority that started her volunteer experience with MDA!

    Thank you, Patty, for your kindness, compassion and ongoing devotion to MDA. We are thrilled for your contributions and are happy you found friendship and lasting relationships during your MDA volunteer tenure. The vital support provided by volunteers like Patty are invaluable to the success of our MDA mission.

  • Davis Cury with a friend

    Davis Cury

    The Long-term Impact of Summer Camp

    While in college, Davis Cury asked his mentor Ryan if he volunteered and in which capacity. He immediately responded, “MDA Summer Camp,” and encouraged Davis to apply. That next year in 2019, Davis was accepted to volunteer at MDA’s Florida Elk’s Camp. Davis found his first experience volunteering with summer camp to be “nothing short of amazing!” After that, he was hooked and returned each year since (and will be attending again this year!) One of Davis's favorite parts about camp is seeing how the camper's confidence grows as they participate in new activities and connect with other campers and volunteers. It is important to Davis that the campers have the best experience possible, and when needed, he spends extra time with the campers who are more reserved or nervous. Every day, Davis is reminded of camp through a sticky note on his desk quoting a camper, which reads, “Whatever you do in life, it’s about the people you meet.” Davis couldn’t agree more! In fact, he says the campers and volunteers he met at camp forever changed his life and he stays in contact with them. Davis encourages friends and co-workers to volunteer too, many of whom joined him at camp in 2022.

    Outside of volunteering, Davis keeps very busy, as he is in medical school and works at the Student Healthcare Center at the University of Florida. In his free time, he cycles, plays video games, and spends time with loved ones. A fun fact about Davis is he recently went skydiving near Arches National Park in Utah!

    Davis, thank you so much for your passion, commitment, and investment into making the campers experience the best it can be. We are so thankful you will be volunteering again this year and hope to see you transition from an MDA Summer Camp Counselor to an MDA Summer Camp medical volunteer after you graduate from medical school.

  • Mark Meyer out by a lake.

    Mark Meyer

    Volunteerism Sprung from a Father’s Dedication

    In 2015, Mark’s Meyer’s youngest daughter was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease. With Mark’s retirement in 2019, he wanted to get more involved in giving back, and began dedicating his time to helping others. Mark’s MDA volunteer journey started at a Fill the Boot event where he “recognized all the great work MDA has done including fundraising, research, and working to find therapies and treatments for all forms of muscular dystrophy.” Once Mark started volunteering, there was no stopping him! In December of 2019, Mark was recognized by MDA as the newest volunteer with the most volunteer hours. Since then, Mark continues to volunteer in a variety of roles, including participating in Colorado’s Fill the Boot and several retail campaigns, including Shamrocks, Summer Camp and Holiday pinup campaigns. “I had a great desire to participate in MDA initiatives in hopes of finding a cure for my daughter and others,” said Mark.

    Mark is a widower and a father of four daughters. In addition to volunteering, Mark enjoys astronomy, gardening, traveling, hiking, and walking his dog, Louie. He is always willing to share his experiences with others, on the chance that they may learn something new. A fun fact about Mark is that he has traveled to almost 30 countries in 40 years!

    Thank you, Mark, for your ongoing commitment to both your daughter and the MDA community. We are so appreciative of your time, dedication, and enthusiasm. We look forward to many more years working with and learning from you!

  • A picture of Mike in golf gear.

    Mike Bellotti

    30 years of amazing work and dedication

    While at the University of Oregon, Coach Mike Bellotti was introduced to the MDA Toast to Strength by a former colleague whose son lived with a neuromuscular disease. After the head coach who originally hosted the event left the university, MDA approached Mike about continuing the tradition of the event and he has hosted it, and the associated golf event ever since. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Mike Bellotti Toast to Strength Gala and Golf Tournament. Throughout the past three decades, Mike’s dedication and commitment to raising funds and awareness for MDA hasn’t wavered. In the last 10 years alone, Mike has helped to raise over $1.6 million. He feels good about his contributions and says he “enjoys watching what we do, raising funds, support, research and development that can improve the quality of life for people with neuromuscular disease[s].”

    Mike and his wife Colleen have three children and four grandchildren and will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary this summer. In addition to his time and energy spent on MDA fundraising events, Mike enjoys fishing, golf, pickleball, and traveling to visit family and friends. A fun fact about Mike is that despite hosting the Toast to Strength Gala and Golf Tournament for the past 30 years, he has never won his own tournament! His golf team, which includes his wife and his son, has yet to take first place! They have come close, finishing third place and second place.

    Thank you, Mike, for your dedication to MDA and the impact you have made on families in Oregon over the last 30 years. We are so pleased to have you on the MDA team. We’re hoping for 30 more years of the Mike Bellotti Toast to Strength Gala and Golf Tournament - and one year where Mike and his golf team can take first place!

MDA Resource Center: We’re Here For You

Our trained specialists are here to provide one-on-one support for every part of your journey. Send a message below or call us at 1-833-ASK-MDA1 (1-833-275-6321). If you live outside the U.S., we may be able to connect you to muscular dystrophy groups in your area, but MDA programs are only available in the U.S.

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