The 2016 Whitney Team

Chris Balch

2016 Whitney Team member ChrisHello, I’m Chris Balch.

I am a former instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and I was a teacher and outdoor leader for 40 years. I taught at public and private schools around the northeast, and was the founding director of the Wild Quest Education Project for over a decade.

My connection to Duchenne is through my good friends, Steve and Tonya Dreher, and their son, Gus. When you get to know these folks it becomes impossible to do anything but get involved. They are strong, spirited and dedicated to ending Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy.

In 2013 I hiked 100 miles of Long Trail and raised a little over $2,500 for Hope for Gus. In 2014 I hiked again — over 250 miles this time, and raised $10,000 for Hope for Gus. Steve Dreher arranged for matching grants and the amount doubled to $20,000. Last year I traveled with the team to Everest Base Camp where we read the names of 750 children into the winds of Everest. I raised $5,000 for the Everest Trek.

This year I have raised around $3,500 and will continue to fundraise until I hit $10,000. All of the money will go directly to DMD research.

I might be getting older, but I’ll keep on hiking and raising funds for Gus and the other kids like him from around the world until we finally have a cure that will allow these children to live happy and healthy lives.

Steve Dreher

2016 Whitney Team team member SteveI’m Steve Dreher. In 2009, at the age of 4, my son Gus was diagnosed with the terminal illness, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It is a devastating diagnosis that challenged so many of the assumptions that my wife Tonya and I had about our life and family. At the same time, it also challenged us to do something. A year later we began The Hope for Gus Foundation. Since that time we have held countless fundraisers in order to support the medical research that will save our son and the thousands of other people afflicted by this disease.

Last year, my wife led a team on a trek to Nepal — they took a flag bearing the names of hundreds of kids to base camp. She did that in order to continue to raise funds and awareness and to “hike for the kids who cannot hike.” In that same spirit, I am leading a team to Mount Whitney. It is the tallest mountain in the lower 48. As such, it offers a powerful symbol as we bring the names and images of thousands of kids with Duchenne to the summit on the “Tapestry of Hope.”

We have every reason to believe that medicine will emerge that can save this generation of kids with Duchenne. At the same time, these last seven years have shown us how important it is that we raise funds to push that science forward. Thank you so much for your support.

Julie Jumisko

2016 Whitney Team memberMy name is Julie Jumisko, and I’m Social Worker at the Regional Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am passionate about helping individuals with disabilities live their lives as independently as possible, in the way they would like to live it. My sister is Gus’ aunt, and that is how I first became involved with Hope for Gus. I started doing small annual fundraisers with 5K runs starting in 2012 because I want all boys who are facing Duchenne to have a chance at living!

I initially wanted to join the Everest to End Duchenne crew, but quickly dropped out due to my fear of heights. So when the Whitney trip was announced, I immediately jumped at the chance to take part in such a great opportunity to raise money and awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Coincidentally, the day we summit Mt. Whitney, August 23rd, is the 10 year anniversary of when I moved to California, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the decade by bringing the hope of a cure to all who are affected by Duchenne’s. Thank you for your support!

Gregg Kaloust

2016 Whitney Team member GregHello, I am Greg Kaloust, the grandfather of Griffin, a boy with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I was a member of the team that trekked to Everest Base Camp to End Duchenne in 2015, and I vow to keep climbing mountains to beat Duchenne until I can’t anymore or my grandson can go with me.

Alaina Tomlinson

2016 Whitney Team member AlainaHi I’m Alaina. I am a mother, wife, and total science nerd. When I was, ahem, younger I spent many summers hiking in the Teton wilderness of Wyoming. I’m excited to have the opportunity to get back to nature and support this amazing cause.

My father, Chris Balch, is close friends with the Dreher family and became involved in the Hope for Gus Foundation several years ago. I’m finishing my degree in natural and applied sciences this year and since my course load is lighter, I finally have time to dedicate to this important cause. Please help support our team as we fight for those who can’t always fight for themselves.