Mark Linder Walk for the Mind Committee

2014 wftm committee

Mark Linder Walk for the Mind has a planning committee of members who are involved with the Walk for the Mind because they have survived a brain tumor, have loss someone they love to this terrible disease, or in support a brain tumor survivor. The planning committee meets once or twice a month from March through November organizing each year’s Walk. Their purpose is to be a presence in Central Illinois to promote awareness of brain tumors and continue to raise funds for research.

Peggy Flannigan

Chairman - Mark Linder Walk for the Mind

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.

Sally Wecker

Vice Chairman of Board

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.  I get referrals often to talk with others that have been diagnosed with a brain tumor and talk, visit, comfort and reassure them through their journey in an effort to give them company so they do not have to walk alone.  I knew I had to help others.  Brain Tumor Survivor, Atypical Meningioma

Sonja Ahrens

Secretary of Board

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.  That was 11 years ago.  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.

Mary Brocksmith

Finance; Board Member

My dear friend, Sonja Ahrens, asked me to be on the committee many years ago.  We have been friends for about 23 years.  In 2003, I had spent the afternoon together with Sonja at the baptism of a mutual friend.  I could hardly believe my ears the next day when I was told that she was in the hospital and that she had a brain tumor.  I spent time in the waiting room with her husband as he tried to deal with the emotions of "what happens next" and "am I going to be a single parent"? As Sonja walked her journey through recovery, I knew that she needed support that I could not provide to her.  I took to the internet in search of support and I found Peggy Flannigan, a Peoria area brain tumor survivor.  Today Sonja & Peggy are on the committee together with the hope of helping others find the support they need after a brain tumor diagnosis.  No one should have to go through all they have been through, so when Sonja asked me to be on the committee, I gladly accepted so that I can help to be a part of finding a cure for brain tumors and so that I can be of help in finding support for those who need it.  God gave me talents and I am going to put them to use to the best of my ability.

Amanda Smith

Website, Social Media; Board Member

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.

Pat Heck

My husband, John, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme tumor in January 2006.  The doctors told us he had 3 to 6 months to live.  But we know only God knows the time we have.  We attended two ABTA conferences and felt there was some hope and found out that we were not alone in this battle.  We attended two of the Walks before my husband passed away in November 2007.  Since that time, I joined the committee to help in any small way I can to further the research in this deadly disease and let people know that there is help and support for them while they battle brain tumors.

Penny Wright

I started walking in the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind in 2007 after my daughter, Nyckie Gorman, was diagnosed with an Oligodendroglioma brain tumor.  Nyckie was so excited to be a part of the Walk and to be with people who truly understood what she was going through.  Nyckie became a part of the committee for the Walk and was passionate about helping and she loved the people she worked with.  Our beautiful Nyckie passed away December 31, 2011.  I started working on the committee in order to continue helping with something that meant so much to her, and to support the Walk.  Hope Always.

Mark Alig

On July 14, 2010, I had 2 benign Menengioma tumors removed from my brain.  I have joined the Walk committee for two reasons: 1) To promote the event and raise awareness about brain tumors and brain cancer.  If our efforts can help one person, we have done our job  2) To honor a person like Tim Freitag.  Although I did not know him well, I saw the way he handled his situation with dignity, courage, and respect.

Janet Jackson

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.

Brandi Wallis

I got involved with the Walk a couple of years after Jacob Manley, my son, had a brain tumor. His cousin Ashley Long, who is also a survivor, told us about it and we have been involved ever since. We loved it from the minute we came for our first walk. It warms my heart to come, see the survivors and feel the support and love. We have made great friends through this walk and I look forward to being involved with the Walk for years to come.

Terrah Cornell

My daughter, Madison Patch, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in June of 2011. I am in the healthcare field & was devastated at the diagnosis. She went to OSF Children's Hospital on June 30th & had her craniotomy. On the follow-up MRI the next morning, some of the tumor remained, so, she had another craniotomy on July 1st. Thankfully they were able to remove most of the tumor. At her follow-up visit at INI, we saw a flyer about the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind & we signed up & have been participating in the walk every year.

My husband & I started a Trivia Bowl to help raise money & donate to the walk. In 2015, Peggy Flannigan asked me to be on the committee. I felt honored & accepted!

I am on the committee in honor of my daughter, Madison, who is a Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma survivor & to help raise money for brain tumor research & education.

Judy Seibert

I joined the committee after Mark's passing in 2005.  I was never on the committee with Mark, but I knew him from the support group.  I have been in every walk, as I was diagnosed in November 2001 -- the first Walk was in September 2003.  I have great support from family and friends and raise over $1500 in donations every year. 

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