Gilda’s Team


It’s time to get outside and support Gilda’s Club!

Gilda’s Team is made up of individuals who walk, run, bike or swim together to raise awareness and funds for Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

Join us as an individual or consider recruiting your friends, family and co-workers to join you as a team and help us raise $2,000 this spring and summer in support of our FREE emotional health programs!


Sign up and receive:

  • An online fundraising page through our website
  • Gilda’s Club T-Shirt to wear on race day
  • Featured photo on our website and as a highlight on social media!

Maybe you’re already signed up for a race (or five!) this year, or needed the extra push to get registered. Maybe you’re participating by yourself or have a group of friends who want to join you. Whatever the case may be, we would love for you to consider racing for Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids!

For questions, please contact Joanne Roehm, Director of Strategic Initiatives & LaughFest at (616) 453-8300 ext. 150 or email


Meet the 2018 Gilda’s Team!

Donald Phelan

“Last fall, as I faced the prospect of turning 66, I thought “What should I put on my bucket list for 2018?” Riding 66 miles on a bicycle on the iconic US Route 66 seemed like a good idea. So I started training. Then I saw my friend — Jeff Jacobi —  ride a penny farthing 36 miles in the Barry-Roubaix and raise $11,000 for Gilda’s Club. Inspired by Jeff’s generosity, I am dedicating my Route 66 ride to Gilda’s Club and creating a fundraiser. Whether the ride raises $66 dollars or $6,000, it will be for a great cause!

In the months of training for the ride, I was given a rusted-out, beat-up Italian Bottecchia racing bike, circa 1968. With Jeff’s help, we restored the bike. It seemed appropriate since the Bottecchia won the Italian version of the Tour de France in … you guessed it … 1966.”

We hope to be live-streaming on Facebook portions of the ride on June 6.  Please support Gilda’s Club by making a donation! Thank you!


Don’s Races:

  • 66 Mile bike ride on Route 66 – June 6

Beth Szczerowski 

Beth is a Zeeland native and absolutely loves West Michigan and the sense of community that can be found here, including the running community. After doing a “Couch to 5k” program in 2011, trying to get in shape with a one and two year old at home, she caught the running bug and never looked back! While setting personal goals and achieving them is great (she completed her first full marathon last October!), it’s even better to experience the excitement and growth that other runners experience. Whether it’s a first race, hitting a PR, running for a cause or getting back on the road after an illness or injury, influencing and motivating other runners is by far her favorite part of the sport.

In addition to the benefits that running brings, including more ice cream (10+ miles = turtle sundae), meeting cool people and buying lots of pretty running shoes, Beth truly loves moving and hates sitting still. She spends her days working with students, families and alumni on a college campus. After work, you will find her running, paddling, cooking with lots of vegetables, reading self-improvement books, picking the banjo, cheering for her kids at sporting events or taking long golf cart rides with her husband and two equally active children.

She believes that everyone contributes something valuable to their community, and loves being a part of that personal development.


Beth’s Races:

  • Zeeland Zoom 5k – June 26
  • RTS 10k – July 7
  • Holland Haven Marathon – September 9

Debbie Schmalzel

“I’m a breast cancer survivor, but first I was a runner. I grew up in the Detroit area and ran in high school and in college. I moved to Grand Rapids with my husband after college and raised 3 children here. After my diagnosis, I was determined to still be a runner after cancer. In February 2006, after my treatments of chemo and radiation, I could hardly run a mile. I thought I would never be able to run a race again. However, that May I ran the 25k Fifth Third River Bank run and finished! This was a huge healing experience for me to know that cancer didn’t take away my love for running and that I was still capable of running. In 2010, for my 5-year anniversary of being cancer free, I ran my first marathon. I’ve run 12 since then in many different cities and states with one being in Iceland. I’ve met so many people along the way and love the running community as a whole! Everyone is so friendly and running a race is the only time where complete strangers are cheering you on! My running group consists of my husband and my running partner who have stuck with me through this cancer journey. My kids are now grown and will say they are not runners, but they are. I talked them into running a race in Iceland too!

When I’m not running, I work full-time as a Human Resources Generalist. I recently went through the mentoring training at Gilda’s Club to mentor newly diagnosed breast cancer patients who are on their own journey. Gilda’s Club helped me out quite a bit with support groups as well as the support groups for my kids, who were quite young at the time. I’m forever grateful to Gilda’s Club. Happy Running!”


Debbie’s Races:

  • 1/2 Marathon Seaway Run in Muskegon – June 23

Maribel Villaseñor

“I’m a runner, biker, and I love volunteering for great causes. I love to help in any way I can to help and volunteering for organizations like Gilda’s Club would be a pleasure!”


Maribel’s Races:

  • Yankee Springs Marathon – June 3
  • Ludington Lakesstride – June 9
  • MSU Fondo – June 23


Eric Egeland

Laurie, my wife, and I had been an item since the late 1970s when we were in high school together. We married the same summer as Princess Diana and Prince Charles. It was happily ever after until she was diagnosed with cancer in Late August of 2015. She died November 7th, 2015. We were married 34 years.

Of course, it was a shock and terrible. Aside from the wonderful support of family and fiends I needed to find another way to process my grief. I had heard of LaughFest and through that, knew Gilda’s Club might have something to offer me. I started by volunteering for LaughFest in 2016 and learned about the various programming Gilda’s Club offered. I joined a grief support group where I am still a member today. My experience with the group, sharing with other people in a sort of club you’d never want to have to join, was and is key in my ability to navigate my grief journey. Today I am active as a volunteer with Gilda’s Club, preparing and serving meals at the club every Wednesday, serving on the Volunteer Leadership Committee and volunteering for a wide variety of special events.

I also bought a bicycle after Laurie died. I hadn’t ridden since I was a kid. Suddenly I had extra time on my hands and I wanted to fill some of it with something healthful. After riding for 2 years I want to challenge myself. I’ve signed up for the MSU Grand Fondo 40 mile ride, my first “race”, which takes place June 23rd. I’m riding for Team Gilda’s!

For my day job I operate my own company as a Food Service/Restaurant Recruiter, which I have done for the past 20 years.


Eric’s Races:

  • MSU Fondo – June 23


Abby Deierlein

My name is Abby and I am racing in my first sprint triathlon at the Rhoades McKee Reeds Lake Triathlon on September 8th! I wanted a new challenge and what better way than a tri??! In my free time you can find me hiking on a trail with my cattle dog, riding through GR every Wednesday with 40+ other bikers, or hanging out at the lake shore. I am a recruiter for Spectrum Health and am passionate about connecting others with careers that they are excited about!

Although Gilda’s Club is something very special to me, it was not a part of my personal encounter with cancer. I lost my Mom to a brain tumor in 2012. Her sickness and death have been something that I have had to cope with in all seasons of my life and to know that there is a service to help those like myself, means the absolute world to me. I moved to Grand Rapids 3 years ago and had not heard about Gilda’s Club but I can tell you I will never forget the first time I stepped foot in the Grand Rapids clubhouse. Gilda’s will always hold a very special place in my heart and I am SO excited to be able to help raise funds and awareness for such a great organization during my first triathlon!


Abby’s Races:

  • Rhoades McKee Reeds Lake Triathlon – September 8


Kayleigh Kramer

Kayleigh has been with the City of Grand Rapids for 2 years as the Office of Special Events Assistant Coordinator. She studied Broadcasting Communications at Aquinas College where she competed on the Women’s Cross Country team and Track & Field team. Kayleigh recently joined Club Red and the People & Pets Committee for LaughFest and is eager to become more involved in years to come.

Kayleigh’s Races:

  • Oberun 5K in Ypsilanti – July 20


Marissa Neubert and Marcie Kooyers

Sisters Marcie and Marissa took up running as a new hobby in adulthood after spending their younger years as avid tennis players . Running together allowed them to catch up and spend time together while staying active. After seeing an ad for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in a running magazine back in 2010, they decided start training for their first long-distance run, and have continued to run that race (and others!) every year.

Marcie and Marissa will be running their first race as part of Gilda’s team on September 9 in their hometown of Holland.  Gilda’s Club is a marvelous resource for individuals and families of all ages and at all stages of a grief journey, and contributing to Gilda’s Team is an awesome opportunity to support their mission and raise awareness for the free year-round programs and services offered at Gilda’s Club.

Marissa and Marcie’s Race:

  • Holland Haven 8K – September 9