Meet the Committee

Executive Committee

Stacie Linder Hansen

Chair, Executive Committee Chair, Executive Committee

I am proud to serve on the Walk for the Mind committee in honor of my brother Mark Linder. Creating the Walk and building a community of support for survivors was Mark’s passion. For over a decade the Walk has grown exponentially because of the team he built, their passion and their commitment to raising awareness, community and support then funneling that support into local research and care.

In 2018, I joined the committee to honor my brother but also in honor and support of friends and co-workers that have also been impacted by brain tumors/brain cancer. Prior to my brother's diagnosis, I did not know anyone that had been impacted by a brain tumor. Since then, I have had dear friends, their families, mentors and co-workers impacted by various types of brain tumors/brain cancer. It is my utmost honor to serve as the the chair of the Walk for the Mind in honor and support of every brain tumor warrior.

It is now my mission to honor and support every warrior, to provide support for families and loved ones impacted and to always remember those that have fought so courageously and are not longer with us.

Amanda Smith

Treasurer, Executive Committee Treasurer, Executive Committee

My mother, Mary Bennett, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme on April 1, 2006. I spent almost every day with her as she went through surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and other trials, helping her live life as best as she could until she passed away in October 2007. I attended my first Walk in 2006 to find she was not the only one is the area with a brain tumor. I joined the committee in 2010 to support brain tumor survivors and raise awareness and funds for brain tumor research. My hope is, one day soon, there will be a cure for brain tumors.

Vicke Rocke

Executive Committee Executive Committee

My name is Vicki Rocke. I have been involved with the Mark Linder Walk since 2016.

My brother, James Meismer, fought bravely a glioblastoma. I was introduced to the effects of this deadly disease throughout his journey. James throughout his life gave love, effort and time to various causes. I knew I had to give something back to a great cause and help others.

I started by attending the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind. I walked for my brother. My eyes were opened at how many people, young and old, are affected by this disease. It was such a great experience knowing I wasn’t alone. I remember the balloons red for the survivors and white for those who have fought. My next step was volunteering with the tshirt committee and donating to the auction.

As the years have passed, I am on the executive board, met amazing surgeons, toured laboratories, and met amazing people…warriors of this disease.

Sally Wecker

Vice-President, Executive Committee Vice-President, Executive Committee

I met Mark at the ABTA Family Weekend in the summer of 2003 which I attended in the hopes of meeting others with a brain tumor--I felt so alone with my journey since my diagnosis and craniotomy in January 2002. You could have knocked me down with a feather to not only meet others but to meet Mark and his mom in the Meet and Greet session, finding out that not only did he live in Peoria, but that he was planning a Walk to raise awareness and benefit the American Brain Tumor Association. It amazed me that here I was, in a room that seemed to be filled with 500 people who shared the same/similar experience with me and now I knew someone in Peoria, too! I was able to help with that 1st Walk and have been on the committee ever since. Brain Tumor Survivor, Atypical Meningioma

Sonja Ahrens

Secretary, Executive Committee Secretary, Executive Committee

I was 38 with a daughter who had just turned 4 when I was diagnosed with and treated for a Meningioma brain tumor. I was just getting back on my feet and returning to work when the 1st Annual Walk for the Mind was being planned. I had heard about the walk through co-workers, as I work for the law firm where Mark's father is an attorney. After the first walk, Mark and several of the survivors got together and started a support group. It was then that I realized to completely heal emotionally I needed to find a purpose and an outlet for what I had gone through. I needed to become a part of the Walk committee. For me personally, if it hadn't been for Mark's vision and courage to create the Walk, I'm not sure where I would be today. In honor of Mark's memory, I'm committed to the continued success of this Walk.

Peggy Flannigan

Retired Chair of the Walk for the Mind, 2005-2020

I joined the Walk for the Mind committee immediately after the first Walk when I asked Mark Linder, the founder of the Walk, if I could help the following year. I was so excited when I got the flyer in the mail for that first Walk, that I knew it was something I just had to be involved with. I had been diagnosed with a brain tumor only a year earlier and at the first Walk for the Mind, I felt like I had just found a network of friends that could relate to my experience. It was important to me to join forces with this group. Together we could do something to help others who would be diagnosed with a brain tumor. Mark and I became friends through the Walk for the Mind, but only a few short weeks after the 3rd Annual Walk, he lost his battle with brain cancer. Each time I lost a friend, my commitment to the Walk was reinforced. I realized that brain tumors would continue to claim friends until the day we find a cure. I feel so fortunate that my tumor diagnosis has not prevented me from continuing Mark’s mission to raise awareness of brain tumors and money for research on brain tumors. My hope is that someday brain tumors will be in our past.

Planning Committee

Mark Alig

Planning Committee Planning Committee

Mandy Eichelberger

Planning Committee Planning Committee

A few days after my sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I saw a sign for the 2016 Walk for the Mind. I immediately signed up for the walk, but ended up missing it as my sister's surgery was scheduled for the same day. After seeing the level of care that my sister received right here in Central Illinois, I knew that I wanted to not only participate in the following Walks, but also join the committee that organizes and plans events throughout the year to help fund local research and brain tumor support.

Kathy Nixon

Planning Committee Planning Committee

I attended my first Walk for the Mind in September of 2018, about six weeks after losing my husband to a 9-month battle with Glioblastoma, the most aggressive and difficult to treat type of brain cancer.  I was still numb.  However, I felt compelled to return year after year as I realized how many people I knew, or had known, that had received a brain tumor/cancer diagnosis. 

In 2021, I became a member of the planning Committee.  It has been a humbling experience.  I never knew Mark Linder, but his passion and commitment to raise awareness of brain tumors, create a community for those affected, and raise funds for research is alive and well among the volunteers on this committee. It is my privilege to be a part of the organization and do whatever I can in support of those affected and in memory of those lost.  It is my hope that our efforts will result in improved treatments and one day, a cure.

Nate Darko

Planning Committee Planning Committee

Joined 2021

Brain Tumor Survivor

Emcee of the 2021 and 2022 Mark Linder Walk for the Mind program.

Josie Darko

Planning Committee Planning Committee

Amy Clark

Planning Committee

Colleen Clark

Planning Committee

Joined 2021

Brenda Hunter

Planning Committee Planning Committee

I became involved with the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind after my husband (Doug Hunter)was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July of 2015. I have continued to participate in MLWFTM since Doug's passing on May 13 of 2017. I am also involved with the Clays for Gray trap shoot event to raise money for brain tumor and cancer research.

Janet Jackson

Planning Committee Planning Committee

I became involved with the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind for three reasons. One reason is because I value what they do. Their charter is to raise awareness of brain tumors and raise money for research on brain tumors. And that money they raise stays right here in Central Illinois helping facilitate brain tumor research at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine at Peoria. Second, my grandfather died from a brain tumor when I was in grade school. Even, though I was young, I remember very vividly the impact on our family. It was the first time I had ever seen my father cry. Lastly, it is because of my good friend, Peggy Flannigan, a brain tumor survivor and Chairman of Mark Linder Walk for the Mind Planning Committee. She inspires me with her passion for this cause and tireless support to make the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind a success! I am glad to help in any way I can to support the walk and its cause. 

Tammy Finch

Planning Committee Planning Committee

Joined 2020

Jennifer Dawson

Planning Committee Planning Committee

Joined 2021

Dennis Ahrens

Day of Walk Set Up Day of Walk Set Up