Role: Co-Founder, New York
About me: I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and the two of us our doing our best to raise our two teenage boys and keep them out of trouble! I’m a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. While i’m currently not in clinical practice, I’m able to use my professional background in many different ways. In addition to my true passion of helping other people, I enjoy exercising, reading, spending time with friends & family, and drinking coffee & wine!
Why I got involved? I started participating in the 39 mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in memory of one friend and in honor of another in 2006. After having such a positive experience, I decided to start a team in 2007. Our team’s name is Sole Ryeders & Friends, as the original group of walkers was from Rye, New York. We’ve grown from a team doing the Avon Walk to a much larger organization, thanks to countless dedicated volunteers. Since 2007, we’ve raised over $1.5 million and with some of these funds we award grants to local cancer-related organizations. We also help community members who are diagnosed with cancer. One concern that used to come up is that women needed wigs and were surprised by how expensive they are and that insurance doesn’t necessarily cover them. Initially we came up with some band-aid solutions for this but then once Kate, Paul and I started brainstorm about it, we came up with the idea for The Wig Exchange as a much better solution.
What makes The Wig Exchange special? Women in need of wigs walk into the homes of our Client Coordinators as strangers and they usually leave with hugs and occasional tears. That’s because of the magic that exists when our Client Coordinators make these women feel so comfortable sharing their stories and their fears and then they help them not only find a wig, but they answer their questions and put them at ease. I always had a feeling that these very personal connections would help make the women in need of wigs feel better about their situation—but the surprise to me has been how happy we’ve been able to make the wig donors. For many of them, it’s been very therapeutic to share their story and to pay it forward and help the next woman who finds herself in similar shoes.