How We Began

In 1998, a small group of dedicated volunteers came together to raise funds to fight cancer.  The group was founded by Kelly Jahner-Byrne.  Since then, the "Cancer Benefit Fund. . .Minnesota’s Path to a Cure" evolved into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised solely of volunteers who are dedicated to make a difference in finding a cure and helping those touched by cancer.

Who We Are

Our goal as volunteers was to create and sustain an organization dedicated to raising dollars for cancer research and cancer treatment in Minnesota. We had no particular type of cancer in mind as each and every one of us had faced the devastating impact of the disease through one type of diagnosis or another.

Over the past twelve years, events have been organized and supported by the generous donations of friends and corporate or private sponsors of the Cancer Benefit Fund.
These efforts have raised nearly $900,000 for cancer research and patient care
in Minnesota.

We strongly believe that Research Cures Cancer.

The Cancer Benefit Fund Board of Directors

Carol Baumgartner

  Sharon Cassen

        Pam Leier

Shannah Mulvihill

      Jodi Ritacca

       Dick Sauter

     Jack St. Ores

      Deb Tomcyzk

Carol Baumgartner has been a member of The Cancer Benefit Fund since day one, serving as secretary/treasurer.  She is a Medtronic, Inc. retiree, where she was the executive assistant to the vice president of public relations.  Due to the loss of many friends and family, including her husband, to cancer, it is Carol's desire to give back to society.  In addition to these responsibilities, she is Special Events Coodinator at her residence, serves on the Board of the Medtronic Retirees Group, and serves on the board of her church women's group.
Sharon Cassen has been a realtor for over 30 years, and is a past member of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (board member, executive committee) and the Minnesota Association of Realtors (board member, professional standards & ethics hearing panel, government affairs).  Sharon has served as a city council member and planning commissioner for the City of New Hope, has served as a board member and chair at Saint Therese Oxbow and a foundation board member at Saint Therese Care Center, and has been involved with The Cancer Benefit Fund for a number of years.  She is married with three grown children, has nine grandchildren and currently resides in Plymouth.
Pam Leier is currently the Vice President of Marketing for Lampert Lumber.  She has served on the board for The Cancer Benefit Fund since 2003 and is committed to their mission of cancer research as a path to a cure.  She is also an active volunteer for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and Second Harvest Heartland.  She currently resides in Maplewood and is the mother of one daughter and grandmother of two.
Shannah Mulvihill moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin in 1999, and currently works as the Development & Communications Manager at the Mental Health Association of Minnesota.  She holds a master's degree in counseling psychology from St. Mary's University of Minnesota.  She has been involved with a number of non-profit organizations, including Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless, the Red Cross and the Walk-In Counseling Center, and became involved with The Cancer Benefit Fund in 2002 after watching a number of friends and family suffer the devastating effects of cancer.  Her current role on the board is in graphic design, communications and website design.  Shannah lives in Howard Lake, Minnesota with her husband, Rob and their two children.
Since 2004 Jodi Ritacca has been Senior PR Specialist/media producer at HealthEast.  She hosts and produces the Emmy-award winning TV show "Inside Health Care" at TV19 and moderated the Emmy-award winning HealthEast live surgery webcasts.  Jodi was a TV news anchor/reporter/producer for 25 years at TV stations in Nebraska, Denver and the Twin Cities, including ten years at KSTP-TV.  She lives in Woodbury with her husband of 27 years Greg Carlini and their kids, Christina and Joe.
Dick Sauter has been active in The Cancer Benefit Fund activities for eight years, primarily working in the sponsorship area.  He has taught in the Business Schools at the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas and spent 17 years in a variety of management positions with Medtronic, Inc.  Dick retired in 2005 and currently works with a number of not-for-profit organizations in the Twin Cities.  He lives in Golden Valley, Minnesota with his wife, Karen.
Jack is retired from Medtronic where he managed product management, business development and global technical and marketing communications.  He has degrees in biology, chemistry and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.  He is a managing partner with InRoads Medical, a consulting firm; is on the Morgan Stanley Advisory Board; and serves as a board member for The Cancer Benefit Fund.  Activities include Scouts, soccer coaching, sailing, fishing, car restoration and four grandsons.  While serving on the Medtronic Foundation, he became more intimately interested in non-profit volunteering and the need to support cancer research.  He has three sons and lives in Stillwater with his wife, Jan.
Deb Tomczyk has been a board member of The Cancer Benefit Fund since 1998 when friends invited her to help with a gala to raise money for cancer research and care.  She has served as vice chair for five years, as well as the live and silent auction, print and entertainment chairs.  She has a MEd. in adult education from the University of Minnesota.  Now retired, Deb previously was the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for EduServ Technologies, and the Director of Human Resources for the Department of Administration, the Office of Enterprise Technology, and the Governor's Office at the State of Minnesota.  Deb also serves on the Board of Directors for 360 Communities in Dakota County and is a Carver/Scott County master gardener.  She and her husband Bill live in New Market Township south of the Twin Cities.