CJD Foundation Awards


Volunteers of the Year: Stu and Jeffrey Yaffa, Chuck Cash and Trevor Baierl

There are several people who regularly help us behind the scenes, giving us the benefit of their professional skills and knowledge to ensure the Foundation runs smoothly. They give us their time and talent so generously, and help us to keep our professional fees at a minimum so we can devote as many funds as possible to our mission.

Stu and Jeffrey Yaffa
Two of our Volunteers of the Year are Stu Yaffa, our treasurer, who keeps our financials in line, and helps so much with our accounting systems, and Jeffrey Yaffa, a very busy attorney who always finds time to help us with filings, reviewing leases and more. We thank them for sharing their knowledge and resources with us, and for keeping the Foundation operating smoothly.

Chuck Cash
Another of these wonderful professionals and active volunteers is Chuck Cash. Chuck is secretary on our board, member of our finance committee, and lends his sharp eye to all operational and board matters. He is a fantastic sounding board and wise advisor on all operating matters and helps us stay focused on our mission in all ways.

Trevor Baierl
You’ve all seen the work of the next Volunteer of the Year, who has shared his talents with us so readily. His mission is to spread the word about CJD and move us toward a cure. We thank him for lending us his time and creative talent: Trevor Baierl.

Circle of Excellence: Dr. Jiri Safar and the staff of the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center -- The Circle of Excellence award goes to a group of people we partner with on a daily basis to be sure families are receiving the testing and answers they need. Their scientific knowledge, leadership in the field, and devotion to patients and families make them an outstanding team in the battle against prion disease. … Congratulations to Dr. Jiri Safar and the staff of the NPDPSC.

Strides Founders Award: Brandi and Jeffrey Evans, and Pamela Fear

Brandi and Jeffrey Evans
This year has brought many opportunities to raise awareness, support families, and raise funds for research and our other programs. One couple has participated in all of those areas. Brandi and Jeffrey Evans have hosted a Strides for CJD event that was enormously successful. They have gained the attention of the media, and shared their story on the local TV news. Jeffrey through his connection found an opportunity for a scientist to provide a TEDx talk in Beverly Hills. He contacted us and after some discussion, we reached out to Valerie Sim who many of you saw speak here last year. Dr. Sim’s TED talk is posted on our website.

Pamela Fear
And their counterpart in Minnesota, who spreads the word about CJD through the media, through social media, and to everyone she meets. She is about to host her third Strides for CJD event this fall and puts so much hard work and creativity into making it a special and successful event each year. Her compassionate support for all who are affected by prion disease is clear to all who know her: Thank you, Pamela Fear.

Florence J. Kranitz Leadership Award: Amanda Kalinsky -- Two years ago, after our former president Florence Kranitz had retired, we not only presented her with a leadership award, we named the award after her. This year the Florence J. Kranitz award for leadership goes to someone who has shown not only leadership in taking on prion disease but tremendous courage as well. She has shared her story openly and has inspired many who learn they are carriers of mutations for genetic diseases, both within and outside the prion disease community.

I am constantly touched and amazed by her bravery and her zest for life. She has shared her story many times at our conference. The Florence J. Kranitz Leadership Award goes to Amanda Kalinsky.


Volunteer of the Year: Karen Adams -- If you are a Facebook user and joined the CJD Family group, then you know this name. In memory of her mother, Karen Adams facilitates the most supportive, kind, open, and honest discussion group you could possibly imagine. She also worked hard with her family and the committee to make the first Chicago Strides for CJD a huge success. Thank you, Karen!

Circle of Excellence: Dr. Brian Appleby -- Dr. Appleby is an instrumental part of our programs, from grand rounds to family workshops. He patiently responds to the questions and concerns of the countless families we refer to him, and he hosts evening teleconferences each month, to help support and educate families around the country. His dedication to the Foundation and the families knows no bounds. We're truly proud to present the Circle of Excellence Award to our friend Dr. Brian Appleby.

Florence J. Kranitz Leadership Award: Marie and Bob Kassai -- A dynamic duo, Bob and Marie Kassai have been involved with the Foundation pretty much from the beginning. They share with us, the families, and infectious disease and funeral professionals, their extensive professional knowledge and their personal experience with CJD. Bob (a funeral professional) and Marie (an infectious disease nurse) have spoken on behalf of the Foundation at numerous professional events around the country. They are dedicated board members who take seriously their role as trustees of the Foundation’s mission. There literally has not been a thing we’ve asked them to do, or even casually suggested, that they have not followed through on. Profound thanks to Bob and Marie.


Florence J. Kranitz Leadership Award: Florence Kranitz -- The board has voted to establish an annual leadership award in honor of Florence Kranitz. The Florence J. Kranitz Leadership Award will be given each year to an individual who demonstrates leadership in achieving the Foundation’s missions, in a volunteer or other role ... to someone who embodies the vision, dedication, and goal-oriented leadership Florence has demonstrated. This year, in its inception year, we're very pleased to present the Florence J Kranitz Leadership Award to Florence Kranitz.

Co-Volunteer of the Year: Maria Thacker Goethe -- Maria energetically approached us one year ago, urging us to find a role for her in supporting the families of the Foundation. Since then she has had an impact on so many programs. She has helped us with social media and promotion, and she was instrumental in making the Atlanta family workshop an extraordinary experience. She has been a valuable member of our fundraising committee and our board, and she plans to host a Strides4 CJD event in Atlanta. She recently designed and launched the Strides4CJD website. Maria, thank you for all you do!

Co-Volunteer of the Year: Veronica Oberdorf -- Veronica has faithfully staffed our nighttime and weekend HelpLine for many years. She is a member of our board, has supported the grand rounds, family workshops and other programs, and has been a wonderful supporter of family members on a one-on-one basis. We send wholehearted thanks to Veronica for all she does!

Strides Founders Award: Karen Adams, Trevor Baierl, Brandi Evans, Maryann Forgan, Corby Foster, Molly Nocerino, Janine Cook, Pamela Fear, Kristin May, Julie Moreno, Maria Thacker and Mike Vitanza -- Each of these people and their committees ran a separate Strides for CJD event in their community. They created a place for affected families and friends and their communities to gather and pay quiet tribute to their loved ones. They raised awareness of CJD, and they reached an incredible fundraising goal, collectively raising more than $100K. And most of them are back at it for 2016. See you on October 1. Thank you to all!