Mother helping cancer patients endure and thrive


The Maple Tree Cancer Alliance hosted their biggest fundraiser of the year during the “Rise and Shine” brunch at the Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek. This event offered a silent auction, brunch, and expert speakers regarding the importance for cancer patients to have a safe environment to exercise, proper nutrition, and faith and support. The event brought over 195 attendees supportive of the cause.


Dr. Karen Wonders, Ph.D., wife and mother of seven children, is changing the way the world looks at a cancer diagnosis by helping empower them with exercise, nutrition and support. Wonders founded The Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, a non-profit organization in 2010. Her organization just hosted their largest fundraiser at Soin Medical Center called Rise and Shine. The event was geared to introduce the services at Maple Tree and show potential new supporters in the community what the program is all about.

“If you think Karen has her hands full, her heart is even bigger,” President of the Greene Medical Foundation, Jeff Brock said.

“We’re the only organization of its kind in all of Ohio- maybe even the nation. To provide these life-changing services free of charge is unheard of,” Wonders said. “And to have the strong research background to support our practices lends credibility to our programs. Our patients, men and women, range in ages of three to 95.”

The Maple Tree Alliance operates solely on donations and grants. Their services are completely free for all cancer patients- current, recovering or past. Its central office is located in the Life Enrichment Center in Dayton and another in Greene Memorial Hospital in Xenia. The Alliance also offers programs in Soin Medical Center.

“I’ve been researching the effectiveness of exercise in cancer rehabilitation since 2003, and have seen firsthand the countless benefits of these programs. The reason the services are offered free of charge is because I believe in them so much that I would never want financial barriers to be the reason someone didn’t adopt a healthy lifestyle. That being said, we have a very limited budget, and very much need the support of members in the community to stay open,” said Wonders. “I think that sometimes people think that because we are in hospitals, we don’t need help, but that is not the case at all. There is absolutely no “fat” in our budget.”

The “Rise and Shine” event was one of the largest fundraisers of the year for The Maple Tree Cancer Alliance. Having the support from the community is more than just important, but helps keeps the organization running. During this event, The Maple Tree Alliance was hoping to raise $50,000, but instead they raised $65,000.

“As the funds grow, we would like to add things like cooking classes and support group training programs for churches in the area,” Wonders said. “Patients tell us that we’ve made a huge difference in their recovery. They feel more energized, experience less side effects, and feel supported throughout their cancer recovery.”

During “Rise and Shine” fundraiser a panel of experts in cancer survivorship spoke and were available for questions during the brunch. Jane Key, RD, LD, CC, registered dietitian at the Maple Tree Cancer Alliance. She conducted a cooking demonstration showing the ease of eating clean and discussed the importance of balanced nutrition. Kelley Brown, an oncology nurse with Premiere Health Network discussed diagnosis and treatment.  Ched Spellman, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biblical & Theological Studies at Cedarville University spoke about the importance of spiritual support. Jenn DiSanto, chef and owner of Fresco, is a breast cancer survivor and spoke of her struggles, challenges and acceptance of her diagnosis and her journey to find The Maple Tree. Barb Strady, partner and attorney at Casper & Casper offered legal support and provided answers to legal questions. E. Ronald Hale, M.D., MPH, the medical director at Kettering Health Network in radiation oncology discussed his journey to the cancer sector of healthcare.

Maple Tree presented an “Can-Spire” Award during the “Rise and Shine” brunch to one of their patients they felt were an overcomer, that was Jennifer Michael. She is currently going through their program.


“Fight that cancer back with everything you’ve got. Cancer doesn’t get to have the last say! We have all the tools to help you be proactive in your cancer recovery and will be with you every step of the way,” Wonder said.

For more information or questions, please visit or call (937) 477-8213. To donate, mail payment to The Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, Life Enrichment Center, 425 N. Findlay Street, Dayton, OH 45404.

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