This February we are proud to announce that Mark Rickel is our Volunteer of the Month! Mark currently serves on the Communication Committee, is chair of the Public Policy Committee and is a member of the Board of Directors. He has also stepped up to chair the Pink Tie Guys, a new program that will encourage men to get involved in the fight against breast cancer. With all that under his belt, Mark still finds time to help with Race-related activities and marketing outreach. He’s a valuable member of the Columbus community and making a big impact in the fight against breast cancer. Congratulations Mark!
What (or who) inspired you to get involved with Komen Columbus?
Five years ago I ran the Race for the Cure for the first time. As I had just taken up running for exercise – all I was looking to do was to run (and finish) my first ever 5K and raise a little money for an important cause. But something about all the people who took part in the race, the survivors, the tributes and all those who came to cheer along the course really had a significant impact on me. To see how this community comes together to support the fight against breast cancer and to celebrate the perseverance and courage of the survivors, as I finished that first race, it immediately struck me that I had to get involved. In the four years since, I’ve helped set up for the race, volunteered on the communications committee and last year accepted a position on the Board of Directors to head up the public policy committee. Yet I’m most proud that my wife and three daughters join me each year for the Race so that we can support the cause as a family.
What’s your favorite part about volunteering with Komen Columbus?
It has to be working with the dedicated and very talented staff at Komen Columbus and their commitment to saving lives and supporting women and families that have been affected by breast cancer. I also enjoy how much my daughters look forward to participating in the Race and how they are learning the importance of volunteering for a cause and that every individual can make a difference.
Can you share anything about what you might have planned for the Public Policy committee?
Komen Columbus along with the three other affiliates in Ohio are working along with breast health advocates to support legislation that would establish an income tax check off option for Ohio taxpayers to make a donation to the Ohio Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) within the Ohio Department of Health. Due to budget limitations the program, which offers screenings for uninsured or underinsured women in Ohio, has realized significant budget cuts over the last four years. Today the program only has enough funding to reach 11 percent of the eligible population. To supplement the amount allocated to the BCCP in the state’s biennial budget, State Representative Kirk Schuring introduced House Bill 426 and State Senator Tom Patton introduced Senate Bill 285 to create the means in which Ohioans may donate to the BCCP when they file their state income tax returns. We will be keeping advocates engaged as the legislative process moves forward to keep lawmakers aware of the importance of this legislation.
Why are you interested in chairing the Pink Tie Guys committee this year?
To me it’s just as important to promote the Komen mission among men and encourage them to be involved in the cause. After all, men have been diagnosed with breast cancer and of course we are husbands, we are sons, we are fathers and we are brothers. I’m sure there are many men out there who have been impacted in one way or another by breast cancer. I’m sure there are many who would be a tremendous advocates for the saving lives through early screening and detection mission if they only knew they had a voice and a platform to use it. I’m looking forward to helping establish this networking group that will share ideas and information with the community about the fight against breast cancer.
When you’re not volunteering for us, what are you up to?
Three daughters, that’s what. In addition to getting them to their music lessons, cheerleading, gymnastics, Brownies/Girl Scouts and other activities, I decided this year that I would finally learn to play piano.