+ Linda Wortman — Founder, Chairman, & President

Linda has always been an example of her favorite saying: “If you can imagine it you can achieve it; If you can dream it you can become it.”

Now Linda, a Never Smoker, has survived lung cancer and with just half a lung has run a 5K race in all 50 states since 2012. To prove you can have ‘Quality Of Life’ after proper diagnosis and treatment of cancer, her new goal is to run a 10K race in every Continent and the 5 Canadian Provinces while creating awareness about Lung Cancer the #1 Cancer Killer that silently killed more that 220,000 victims in 2013, including 40% Never and Non Smokers in 2013… shockingly, those numbers are growing everyday striking Never smokers 20 years of age.

Together, Jerry and Linda hope to promote Lung Cancer Awareness with a National Healthy Lungs Research Project to raise awareness of Lung Cancer which is the leading cause of deaths in men and women; accounting for more deaths than that of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Running Lungs Races is becoming a means to educate communities and remove the stigma that lung cancer is a smokers disease, provide a fun and rewarding platform for raising funds to support lung cancer and pulmonary research. All proceeds are donated to lung cancer research and specific researchers. In 2014 Linda and her husband, Jerry Co-Founded the Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non profit to raise desperately needed research funds for Lung Cancer Research and specific researchers who have discovered life saving targeted therapies.

Prior to her 35 year Airline Career as a Flight Attendant, Purser, Government Affairs Chair; Safety, Health and Security Team Leader; and In Flight Instructor; Linda attended the University of Minnesota while working in the fashion industry. Linda has enjoyed being involved in community work, having worked in all aspects of the school system while living in Minnesota including Public Speakers Bureau, Girl Scouts, Explorer Scouts, Boys & Girls Club of America, Ronald McDonald House, Easter Seals Society Spokes Person and Mrs Minnesota USA. She also enjoyed being a Patient Advocate on Capitol Hill in Washing DC for American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute.

Linda knows the value of family and has always treasured her husband Jerry, and their children and grand children. Together they always enjoy quality time with family, outdoor activities in the Rocky Mountains, racing vintage vehicles and traveling. Linda plans on returning to the world as a Motivational Speaker to inspire lung cancer patients, survivors and their families by giving them permission to speak openly about lung cancer with hope, determination, commitment too unite and save lives and promoting lung cancer research and funding for researchers. Lung cancer can affect anybody, at any age, anywhere in the world, smoker or non-smoker.

+ Jerry Wortman — Founder & Treasurer

Jerry received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Drake University in Business Administration. Captain Wortman served in the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command where he flew on the Boeing B-52’s. Captain Wortman began his commercial flying career in 1967 as a Northwest Airline pilot and instructor on Boeing 727’s, 707’s & 747’s; Mc Donald-Douglas DC-10 aircraft. After his formal retirement from aviation in 1999 he worked as a Test Pilot flying Boeing 747’s and McDonald Douglas DC-10’s until 2007.

Jerry has always loved going fast! In 2007 he developed a passion of building Vintage Flathead race engines during the winter for his 35 Ford and participating in Vintage Car Drag Racing events across the USA during summers. He recently built a Flathead engine for his 35 Ford and aspires to set a 150 mph race record on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats.

Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation has given Jerry another race goal. As a Lung Cancer Survivor Advocate, Jerry quickly learned the importance of early lung cancer diagnosis after his wife Linda, a Never Smoker and the picture of health, was shockingly diagnosed with Lung Cancer on 1-11-2008. Jerry is grateful to Mayo Clinic Doctors and dedicated medical teams, who listened, diagnosed, and completed Linda’s upper left lobe/3cm tumor surgery, within 72 hours of her diagnosis, that saved her life along with Mayo Clinic’s “Paced Breathing Research” and follow up Transform Programs.

On Mother’s Day 2014, Coach Jerry and Linda completed a two year goal of running a 5K race in every state, proving that survival rates of lung cancer and Quality Of Life can be dramatically affected, if lung cancer is caught at the early stage. Unfortunately, few people realize that Lung Cancer kills more men and women than 7 cancers combined every year. More shockingly, 60% of those diagnosed are Never smokers-like the Wortman family; or are past smokers.

Jerry is a Lung Cancer Patient Advocate because he very well understands the issues that diagnosis imposes on lives. By working on the Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation as a Board Member, we hope to raise funding for Mayo Clinic Lung Cancer Research and Programs that will address the issues of Quality Of Life for Lung Cancer Survivors and also give back to the dedicated medical teams, that care for critically ill patients through educational offered by Mayo Clinic through programs like Transform and SMART.

I want to see more lives saved, so they too can experience the same quality of life, my wife Linda, our family and I have experienced because of early lung cancer diagnosis. By sponsoring 2K, 5K, 10K and Virtual “Running Lungs” Races through the Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation we feel we can reach our goal ‘Race+Research=Results’ by donating 100% of proceeds to Mayo Clinic.

+ Julie Yost — Vice President

Julie is a lifelong runner and an enthusiastic supporter of the local running community. She has been a member of the Rochester Track Club Board of Directors since 2009 and is currently serving in the role of President. The Rochester Track Club (RTC) is a local, non-profit running club dedicated to the following mission: “To promote and encourage running and fitness in Rochester and the surrounding communities by providing support, information, and events for people of all ages, abilities and levels of fitness.” Through the support of the RTC, its members and sponsors, the club is able to provide weekly Saturday morning group runs, running clinics, and a Grand Prix running series of 9 races throughout the year. RTC also sponsors the All Comers Track Meets in June and July. For nearly 40 years, local kids – from toddlers to teens – have had the opportunity to participate in these Tuesday night track meets at Soldiers Field. Dozens of other local runs and walks are also supported by the RTC through the rental of race equipment, volunteers, and sharing of expertise. Julie is pleased to bring the runner’s perspective to the Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation Board and support the Running Lungs events nationwide.

When not running or biking, Julie can be found at the Mayo Clinic where she has been employed for the past 29 years. Currently she is a unit manager in the Division of Systems and Procedures where the emphasis is on partnering with Mayo Clinic colleagues to achieve the best patient experience through objective, innovative and integrative business consulting and project management.

+ Francesca Ripple — Marketing Director

With early roots as an artist and designer Fran's professional career has spanned that of a strategic designer, public relations professional and patient experience advisor at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. In June 2016 she shifted her career to become an independent contractor and community catalyst with interests and expertise in today’s patient experience economy. She brings leadership skills in creative project management, expertise in innovation in health care, human usability and human centered design, team building, fostering creativity and building creative confidence in every person she connects with.

A strategist, she is passionate about the interdependencies between an organization’s brand and the dependency on an organizations culture (and the supporting systems needed) to optimize and foster an unparalleled patient experience -- creating meaningful consumer and patient experiences.

Before embarking on her own consultancy, she was a Senior Patient Experience Advisor in the Mayo Clinic Office of Patient Experience from September 2014 to June 2016. Prior to taking that role, she was the Communications Manager for the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation (CFI) and a member of the leadership and planning team for the Mayo Clinic Transform symposium from 2009-2014. She has held roles as a communication specialist in Public Affairs from 2007-2009, a strategic designer in the Department of Development from 2005-2007, a marketing specialist at Mayo Collaborative Services, Inc. from 2004-2005 and a graphic designer in Creative Media from 1999-2005.

Francesca earned her BFA from The Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, D.C. in 1997 and her Masters in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix, AZ. In April 2013 she became a certified Experience Economist through Strategic Horizons, a program created by James Gilmore and Joe Pine, authors of the Experience Economy and Authenticity.

+ Stephen Cassivi, M.D. — Board Advisor

Stephen D. Cassivi, M.D., is a thoracic surgeon (chest surgeon) with both clinical and research activities. His clinical interests and experience span the breadth of thoracic surgery with a specific expertise in minimally invasive thoracic surgery.

+ Ping Yang, M.D., Ph.D — Board Advisor

The research of Dr. Yang encompasses causes, risk factors, natural history, clinical course, treatment outcomes and quality of life. Her team’s research goals are to reduce cancer occurrence, diagnose cancer at a treatable stage, and design the best treatment plan for optimal quantity and quality of life.

She initiated and has been leading the Epidemiology and Genetics of Lung Cancer Research Program at Mayo Clinic, which is designed to identify genomic, environmental and other host factors (such as chronic lung diseases) that are involved in disease risk and development, progression, and prognosis, as well as health-related quality of life.

Significance to patient care: Dr. Yang’s team is now putting a greater emphasis on outcomes research, particularly patient-reported outcomes. The objective is to bridge the gap in the transition from a patient to a survivor by understanding deficits, defining needs and developing care models in lung cancer patients who completed cancer treatments. The ultimate result is to accelerate the recovery process from a patient to a survivor — and from a survivor to a healthy member of society.

Related to population health: Dr. Yang’s research utilizes the framework of the Rochester Epidemiology Project continues to monitor trends in lung cancer morbidity and mortality in defined populations, provide new leads as to causes, estimate the attributable risks with known causes, identify at-risk subpopulations, and evaluate the effectiveness of screening and early detection efforts.

+ Dev Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D. — Board Advisor

Debabrata (Dev) Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., has a broad background in tumor microenvironment with training and expertise in angiogenesis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Dr. Mukhopadhyay and his team are using pancreatic and renal cancer disease models to examine how tumors develop and particularly how they induce the angiogenic response that is essential for their survival.

Vascular permeability factor (VPF), also known as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), has been implicated in the new vessel development found in most tumors. Although the mechanism of these complex processes remains unclear, Dr. Mukhopadhyay and his team are investigating the importance of VPF-VEGF as well as its signaling pathways to elucidate the mechanisms by which VPF-VEGF function in a variety of tumor models.

Moreover, Dr. Mukhopadhyay and his team are stuying the role of other angiogenic-related factors in tumor angiogenesis and metastasis, such as vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGFC), vascular endothelial growth factor D (VEGFD) and phosphatidylinositol glycan anchor biosynthesis class F protein (PIGF).

Additional research interests include stellate cell biology, new drug delivery systems and nanotechnology, and incorporating the use gold nanoparticles and other bioconjugates as messengers to deliver reagents capable of manipulating the angiogenic response in vivo.

+ David Midthun, M.D. — Board Advisor

David Midthun is a member of the Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation Board. He is a Staff Consultant in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota. He is a Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and is Director of the Mayo Clinic Lung Screening Program and head of Bronchoscopy and Interventional Pulmonology.

His clinical and research expertise is in the detection, diagnosis and staging of lung cancer. He has held past positions as Director of the Pulmonary Hospital Practice and was Director of the Pulmonary Pathophysiology Course in the second year of Mayo Medical School for 20 years. He is a multiple recipient of the Teacher of the Year award in the Department of Medicin

Midthun lost his grandfather to lung cancer and joins others through the WLCF whose lives have been affected by this devastating disease. He feels that the WLCF can be instrumental in increasing awareness of lung cancer and in advancing the science of detection and treatment.

Midthun has a bachelor’s degree from the St. Olaf College, a Doctor of Medicine from the University ofMinnesota, and competed Internal Medicine residency and Pulmonary Fellowship at Mayo. He has done medical missions work in Honduras, Bolivia and Kenya and has been infected with the international travel bug. He skied the Birkebeiner the past 4 years, and enjoys being a dad, exercising and gardening – he’s best known for growing 2 sons and many varieties of dahlias.

+ Bruce Johnson, M.D. — Board Advisor

Research in the laboratory of Bruce D. Johnson, Ph.D., centers on interactions between the heart and the lungs under various conditions, such as hypoxia, high altitude and exercise, and in various populations, including aging populations and those with heart failure and lung disease.

Specifically, Dr. Johnson's research team is interested in how cardiovascular function influences breathing and how breathing may in turn influence cardiovascular function. These interactions include neurohumoral, mechanical, hemodynamic and genetic interactions.

+ Dietlind Wahner-Roedler, M.D. — Board Advisor

AS – Associate Consultant in Hematology
Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Fellow – Hematology
Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
MS — University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Fellow – Internal Medicine
Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Internship – Rotating
Somerset Hospital, Somersville
Internship – Rotating
Albert-Schweitzer-Krankenhaus, Northeim
Other – Thesis Dr. Med.
Freie University Berlin
Internship – Rotating — Behring-Krankenhaus, Berlin
MD — Freie University Berlin
American Board of Internal Medicine – Geriatric Medicine
American Board of Internal Medicine – Hematology
American Board of Internal Medicine
Academic Rank
Professor of Medicine

+ Julian Molina M.D., Ph.D. — Board Member

Fellow – Hematology and Oncology
Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Resident – Internal Medicine University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Internship – Internal Medicine
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
PhD – Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology
College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati
Resident – Internal Medicine
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Hospita
Chief Resident
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Hospital
Resident – Internal Medicine
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Hospital
MD — Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Medical School
Internship – Internal Medicine
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Hospital
Rotating Internship
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Hospital
Diplomate, American Board of Internal Medicine
Academic rank
Associate Professor of Oncolog
Lung cancer, brain metastasis, head and neck cancer

+ Richard Hurt, M.D. (Retired) — Board Member

Fellow – Internal Medicine
Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Internship: Straight Medicine
Baptist Memorial Hospital MD: University of Louisville
BA: Murray State University
Academic rank
Professor of Medicine

+ Chris Draft TeamDraft.org — Board Member

Chris Draft is the Founder, President, and CEO of the Chris Draft Family Foundation (CDFF), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering families to live healthy lifestyles. He is a nationally recognized community leader and health advocate who serves as an NFL Ambassador, National Ambassador for the Parent Teacher Association, and a national spokesperson on many health-related issues, including the care and treatment of asthma, from which he suffers, and lung cancer, the disease that claimed the life of his wife, Keasha.

In 1998, Draft graduated from Stanford University where he earned a degree in economics while becoming a four-year letter winner in football and a two-year member of the Cardinal baseball team. After college, He went on to a twelve-year career in the NFL, playing linebacker for the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and Washington Redskins.

In 2006, Draft established the CDFF, which focuses on several primary initiatives with overarching themes that stress the importance of education, healthy lifestyles, character development, personal responsibility, self-discipline, and physical fitness. The CDFF’s newest initiative, Team Draft was created by Chris and Keasha during Keasha’s year-long struggle with Stage IV Lung Cancer.

As a former Charlotte Hornets Honeybee dancer and member of Clemson University’s Rally Cat dance squad, Keasha was an energetic vibrant young woman who had never smoked when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer in December 2010. At the time, her only “symptom” was a slight shortness of breath a few days earlier. Despite the diagnosis and knowing the long odds they faced, Keasha and Chris decided to fight back. On November 27, 2011, standing side-by-side, they launched Team Draft at their wedding. One month later, Keasha lost her courageous fight and died at the age of 38.

Team Draft is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” The fact is anybody can get lung cancer. Yet, despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked—including Keasha—are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, which pales in comparison to funding for other major cancers and diseases. Team Draft is out to change all that by using the unique platform available to Draft as a former NFL player and nationally recognized community leader and health advocate to lead a national campaign to change the face of lung cancer—a campaign that has, to date, taken Team Draft to more than 50 of the top cancer treatment and research centers in North America.

This year, Team Draft partnered with lung-cancer survivor Jackie Archer to help the State of Georgia become the first state in the nation to issue a lung cancer-specific license plate. Draft was part of the ceremonies with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal when he signed HB 732 into law, authorizing the plates and has personally installed the first several plates. In September, Draft participated as a runner and a keynote speaker in the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Series in Philadelphia, and was recently named a LIVESTRONG Global Envoy in recognition of Team Draft’s work.

A leader both on and off the field, Draft has received a number of awards and honors for his tireless work in the community. He was recently honored by SCLC/W.O.M.E.N. Inc. at its 33rd Annual Drum Major For Justice Awards in recognition of the Foundation’s health awareness efforts. Additionally, Draft was selected as the Man Of The Year by both the St. Louis Rams and the Carolina Panthers, and received the NFL Alumni Spirit, Ed Block Courage, and Rankin Smith Awards. He was also a two-time finalist for the prestigious Byron “Whizzer” White Award. In addition to his numerous accolades, Draft is also a published author. His 2010 children’s book, Do You Want to Play Catch?, stresses the importance of family and physical activity.

+ Allision P. Jacob M.S. Scientist/Biotechnology — Board Member

Allison Jacob is a scientist in the oncology field and has been in the biotechnology industry for over 15 years. She received a Masters from the University of Washington via her work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her recent research has focused on breast cancer with specific emphasis on regulation of bone metastases

Allison has been an avid runner since childhood and is excited to be able combine running and raising cancer awareness in support of the Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation. She is honored to be involved in the initiation of WLCF and firmly believes in its mission to support lung cancer research and education.

+ Karen Dumka — RN, BSN


Karen M Dumka RN, BSN is an experienced Site Account Manager with an extensive background as a CRA, healthcare consultant and nurse. Ms. Dumka had a active nursing career from 1979 – 1997, specializing in Cardiac Care, Trauma, Oncology, Medical, Surgical, Labor and Delivery for both adult and pediatric patients. In 2004 Ms. Dumka shifted her career to become a Clinical Research Associate with such world-renowned organizations like Merch & Co., Icon PIC and most recently, Covance Clinical Development Services. In 1992 Ms. Dumka earned the Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of the State of New York, after earning the Diploma of Nursing from the Ona M. Wilcox School of Nursing, University of Connecticut, in 1979.

To the Brink and Back

It was 2008. My usual, one-day yearly physical turned into three days. I remember thinking, “This is the best physical anyone could ever have. I hope my Mayo Clinic doctor of 15 years isn’t retiring!”. Shockingly, I found myself heading to surgery within 72 hours after being diagnosed with lung cancer. I was required to attend Nicotine rehab even though I never smoked and stayed active. My life insurance policy was cancelled without my consent and I was told, “You should be dead!" 

Fact: 20% of lung cancer deaths are non-smokers, often due to radon exposure, secondhand smoke, air pollution or asbestos.

My lung cancer treatment was VATS robotic surgery, performed by a thoracic surgeon at Mayo Clinic. A 3cm tumor and my upper left lung lobe were removed. My follow-up care included CT scans. I didn’t mind having my height and weight checked before each scan. It helped me keep within the recommended height and weight standards, and I certainly didn’t mind giving blood for an ongoing Lung Cancer survivor research study.

Watch Linda's story below, as shared at TEDx BigSky 2017.


WARNING: lung surgery is not a cakewalk for the patient, loved ones or even the amazing team members who care for you — Lung cancer is tough on everyone! And if having to have my husband tell me to breathe, breathe, breathe just hours after surgery isn’t enough to test your resilience physically, mentally and spiritually…Hearing the words, “Today we will begin Nicotine rehab” seemed like this nightmare would never end. I did not understand as I slowly whispered, “But, I never smoked?”

My Mayo Clinic medical care was outstanding, but I felt compelled to push my cancer wounded body, mind, and spirit harder through recovery and hospital physical therapy so I could get out of this unsettling place “pursed lip” breathing. The only compassion and acceptance I felt were from my loved ones and the doctors and nurses who KNEW I never smoked!

Fact: In the 21st century, Lung Cancer will have claimed 1 BILLION lives.

This feeling of rejection seemingly seemed all too familiar to this courageous medical team as well. It felt like ‘forever’ before I heard my oncology doctor and team say, “We got it all, you are cancer free!” I thought 5 years 85% survival meant…live that long and you’re a survivor! I did not accept or realize there was only a 16% chance of surviving lung cancer.

My concern was how to manage my excruciating thoracic pain, streaming from deep nerve bundles that were once attached to my now missing upper left lung lobe. It was Impossible to take a deep breath. I had no idea how long I could live with such shallow breathing patterns. Previous cancer ridden choking cough seemed easier! How could I learn how to breathe again, walk, sleep, sit stand without pain? Bend over and tie my shoes, again? When I called my surgical team the only seemingly sad reply was, “I know it hurts, just give it time”.


Ring, ring, ring. A “Paced Breathing Research Study” invitation call came from a Mayo Clinic oncology nurse and earth angel. She would call with weekly questions and support. I was provided an app with a soothing voice that slowly guided my total body relaxation and breathing with such guidance, understanding, compassion, acceptance, love, and forgiveness that gave me mental, spiritual and physical permission to be released from lung cancer, this brutal disease, and its scars. (Check out the new MyBreath App)

Fact: 1 in 14 people will develop lung cancer in their lifetime.

In just three weeks I could speak clearly enough to say to the oncology nurse, “This is much more than paced breathing isn’t it?” Furthermore, I had someone who understood the depth of unfairness that comes with lung cancer and Never Smoker. We could talk openly, allowing the total healing to begin. I listened to the audio for two to four hours a sitting…morning, noon, evening, night, and middle of the night! I began to sleep sitting up in my bed. I could B R E A T H E, I was totally healing.

Every breath is taken for granted until you’re gasping for air.

With my loving husband, tying my country ski shoes on my feet, slowly walking me to our truck, loading our x-country skis and poles and driving us to the ski trails where just three days before surgery, we had skied 17k uphill from 6300 feet to 8500 feet altitude in just a few hours. Now I would barely move 200 feet as I struggled to follow my husband while I listened to the soothing man’s voice guide my every breath. I had to stop and slowly slide my body back to the truck. This venture took two hours, but every day we would return to ‘try’ x-country skiing again. The only rest was returned doctor’s appointments. My husband believed our return flights from Montana to Minnesota were a holiday.

The “Paced Breathing Research Study” gave my mind permission to heal through the eyes of a Lung Cancer patient, while forgiving my body for allowing this to happen. This form of meditation is not for just anyone, it is directed to the spirit that has been so broken there is nowhere to go but “lives” and “transformation” from the brink of death by guiding my every breath to healing the total person.

In 2008, STRESS MANAGEMENT and RESILIENCY TRAINING (SMART) Program was being developed by Dr. Amit Sood at Mayo Clinic and my life was being transformed.

I breathe, walk, run, and live with the total transformation in my body, mind and soul with gratefulness every moment and every day to my new life.


Team W

Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation 501 (c) (3) Board Members