Each month we will recognize those whose contributions inspire us and who demonstrate excellence in their service to others. This award was created to thank those outstanding individuals and to bring to light the immense efforts, time and resources that are generously given to the Foundation.
John McDonald with his late wife, Michelle, a cholangiocarcinoma warrior.
John McDonald sat in the doctor’s office for a routine physical and had his tipping point moment, just a few short months after he had lost his wife, Michelle, to cholangiocarcinoma. During that appointment he learned one of the doctor’s staff had also been recently diagnosed with the same cancer. As he shared his thoughts about a fundraiser and brainstormed during the appointment, he knew immediately he shouldn’t take no for an answer.
John grew up in Austin, Texas and his parents had deep roots not far away in Taylor, Texas. The small town of Taylor was a perfect place to raise a family. It was there Michelle taught hundreds of people as a fitness instructor. Her warm and friendly personality quickly turned people into “peeps” because she made friends so easily. She and John married in January of 2017, and six weeks later they learned of Michelle’s diagnosis. She passed away at only 47 years old.
As John and his oldest daughter Carrie sat down to write Michelle’s obituary, they learned of the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation (CCF). Michelle had been through four ERCP surgeries, an inconclusive biopsy, and ascites treatments before they even knew if a resection was possible. No one had mentioned genomic testing. He could not ask questions about cholangiocarcinoma, when neither of them even knew what to ask. He has since attended two of CCF’s Annual Conferences. John is passionate about helping other patients get educated about the disease. Funding research for early detection is John’s goal.
John had never run a 5K, much less organize one, but shares that God’s hand was in the process. August 10, 2019 marked the second annual “Michelle’s Hot Peeps Beat CC” 5K and Fun Run event in Taylor, TX with all proceeds benefiting CCF. Michelle’s peeps ran for her and all the warriors. John says his volunteer fundraising efforts are his way of doing something for Michelle. Just because he didn’t know of resources during Michelle’s treatment, doesn’t mean he can’t help now. What he has learned, he wishes could have helped Michelle, but he works to help educate others in her honor. John continues to spread awareness about the Mutations Matter program, and has sought help from his local state representatives to seek support and additional funding.
It is a great honor and privilege to recognize John McDonald as Volunteer of the Month!
YOU DID IT!
Thank you to the Dan King Memorial Fund. On October 6th, the group presented the Foundation with a check for $5,500. Dan King passed away on May 11, 2017 of cholangiocarcinoma. His family and friends now honor his memory by raising funds for the Foundation, and this year marked their third annual event. This generous donation will help us make progress in our mission to find a cure and improve the quality of life for those affected by cholangiocarcinoma.
Friends of Cait Telaak, a cholangiocarcinoma warrior who we lost this year, held a charity event fundraiser in her honor. The Soup and Chili Cookoff raised over $1,400 in just a few hours. Thank you to Essendant, each supporter, and the entire community outreach team.
CARE TEAM UPDATE
CARE Team New England
The New England CARE Team is up and running full steam ahead. They have begun outreach to healthcare professionals in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York, advocating on behalf of CCF and their mission.
CARE Team member, Shannon Giasullo (pictured at right), is hosting a fundraiser at Pinot's Palette in Montclair, NJ on November 9th, to benefit the Foundation. In honor of her late mother, they will be painting peonies, her mom's favorite flower! Shannon will also be representing the CARE Team November 3rd at the NYC Marathon.
According to Alie Plouff, New England CARE Team member, "overall, we are working hard on building alliances here in New England and we love being able to do our part in the fight against cholangiocarcinoma."
Shannon and her mom picking out her wedding
dress in April 2016.
TEAM CCF UPDATE
Mike McKechnie runs through rain and wind in honor of his brother-in-law, John Panciocco, and greets his family after the Ocean State Marathon in Narragansett, Rhode Island.
TeamCCF competed in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 13th. Eighteen runners braved the wind and the cold. Together the team did an amazing job and raised $50,000. In addition to the marathon team, Christopher Wampler of Moseley, Virginia competed in the Charlottesville Classic Half Marathon. He and his family raised over $2,800.
Mike McKechnie of Norfolk, Massachusetts competed in the 5th Annual Ocean State Marathon in Narragansett. McKechnie ran in honor of his brother-in-law, John Panciocco, who recently passed away from cholangiocarcinoma. McKechnie raised over $4,300!
Next month, TeamCCF will have runners in the New York City Marathon; the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Half Marathon, 8k; the AACR Philadelphia Marathon, Half Marathon, 8k; and the CEA/Johanna Foods Turkey Trot.
TeamCCF is excited to have runners in the upcoming Indianapolis Marathon on Nov. 7-9, 2019. The Foundation has been asked to provide 4 volunteers to help support the event.
Volunteer needs include staffing the packet pickup table, handing out water during the race, and course marshaling. Volunteers can be as young as 12 years old. Volunteer shifts are 3.5 hours in length.
Meredith McGuffage, TeamCCF Coordinator, will be there and is scheduled to help with packet pickup on Friday the 8th. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or are able to participate.
Social Media Contributors
In preparation for Giving Tuesday, on Dec. 3rd, the Social Media Team is seeking video contributions of 30 seconds or less with personalized content. Videos can be sent to email@example.com.
Tips for videos:
Use horizontal format.
Use best lighting possible.
Candles for the Cure
This coming December CCF will begin its annual Candles for the Cure campaign.
CCF would like to share your story. Please tell us why you get involved with the organization.
Please see Nirma Patel's video as example content.
Ruesch Symposium Volunteers
The CCF has attended the Annual Ruesch Symposium, in Washington D.C., for several years and hopes to be able to have a presence there this upcoming year as well. Volunteers who have helped in the past are unable to participate this year.
We have been invited to attend the entire conference, or either day. Literature and needed materials would be shipped directly to you in order to set up the CCF table. You can also visit bit.ly/RueschSymposium for more information about the agenda and specifics of the symposium.
In preparation for Veterans Day on November 11th, CCF invites you to submit a photo of your veteran. You may include a brief caption with the photo. CCF plans to share these photos throughout the day on social media.