RALLY AGAINST PARKINSON’S
MISSION: To be a resource for excellence, exercise, wellness and camaraderie for people living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), including care partners, families and friends.
Stephen B. Sappington, Founder and President
Steve has more than 40 years of experience in all levels of management. His career with Lockheed Martin provided him with ample opportunity to create and manage projects of all sizes. He worked with planning, implementation and design and managed budgets from conservative to millions. He oversaw the work of many different teams and reported directly to top executives. Steve holds an MBA from Loyola University in Maryland and a BA from Towson University.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2014 after his wife noticed he was dragging his left foot and his hand was shaking, Steve says he was in denial. Friends and family urged him to try Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) and he obliged with dragging feet. “The decision to attend changed my life significantly for the better! I learned all about PD, and how this disease impacts each person in a unique way. I found many fighters who were in different stages of their fight; some new like me without many serious conditions, to those with advanced PD,” Steve says. He found the class had a positive impact on his symptoms and he was hooked!
When Steve found that the funding source for these classes was not guaranteed, he decided to give back by supporting RSB. He formed Rally Against Parkinson’s (RAP) Harford Inc, an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds that directly support free RSB classes for PD patients.
As president of Rally Against Parkinson’s, Steve says, “I am dedicated to fight this disease by providing those like me with free RSB classes to enable them to make a choice to fight back, and give them a chance to be in the fight personally, not just as a patient. These classes provide HOPE for those with PD!”
Steve and his wife, Dee, have five grown sons and nine grandchildren.
Laura Hayes Zellman, Vice President
Laura is honored to serve as the Vice President for the RAP Board of Directors. Her connection with the organization stems from her love of her father, Benjamin Hayes, who battled Parkinson’s Disease for more than a decade. Ben was the person who would give you the shirt off his back if he thought it would help you with whatever problem you were facing. Laura was inspired by his generosity and commemorated his legacy by raising funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease research with her family. To date, Laura and her family have raised more than $80,000 for the foundation.
Laura also manages her family’s local business, which has been serving the community for more than 25 years. Prior to that, she ran the philanthropic program for American Express Travel for her local region. Laura’s dedication to community service stretches even further than that as evidenced through her involvement with Relay for Life, Light the Night, Bea Gaddy Foundation, Our Daily Bread, The Ronald McDonald House, American Cancer Society, and The American Red Cross – just to name a few. Laura uses her passion for philanthropy and love for her father to motivate her as she continues to fight for those with Parkinson’s Disease because they deserve to have a cure.
Dee Sappington, EXECUTIVE ADMINISTRATOR
At the age of 12, Dee Sappington was catapulted into a caretaker’s world when her mother was diagnosed with Leukemia. She helped her father care for her baby brother and her nine-year-old sister. At the age of 13, her mother passed, and her immediate and extended family worked together to make life as normal as possible. Dee says this is how she learned early that it is important to help others. Dee continued to be the caretaker for aging relatives, and despite its difficulties, found that caretaking is so rewarding. At the age of 53, after raising five sons, the tables turned for Dee. She had her first colonoscopy and was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to her liver. Her husband became her caretaker with the help of family and innumerable dear friends lent a hand to help, pray, drive, cook and take care of Dee. She never lost her positive attitude, and she says, “Despite the odds, I’m still here!”
Now it is again time for Dee to be here for her husband, who has Parkinson’s. She wants to help him help others, so together they are working to give back to the PD community. Dee’s perspective: If we get a little cough or a cold, we are pretty confident that we’ll be better soon. Those with Parkinson’s know they will never heal from their disease. They will continue to have tremors, dyskinesia, dragging gait, loss of voice, handwriting they and no one else can read, instability when walking and so much more. We’ve found that what seems like a doomed PD path can turn into one that includes laughs, fewer feelings of insecurity and more feelings of camaraderie and triumph! Dee serves on the board of directors for Rally Against Parkinson’s to help those with PD fight back against their disease through Rock Steady Boxing classes.
Steven R. Brill, Chief Operating Officer
Steven R. Brill is a social scientist with a diverse background in planning, systems engineering, information technology and knowledge management. He is a Vietnam Veteran (USAF 66-70), and was employed in the DoD and aerospace industries for 40 years. He retired from his position as senior systems engineer at NASA in 2013.
An Eagle Scout, Steve also served as a Cub, Boy Scout and Venture Crew leader for 11 years. An avid student of martial arts since childhood, studying in both the U.S. and Japan, he holds a black belt in Mushinoto JuJutsu and has been a volunteer teaching martial arts and self-defense classes at veteran centers and county senior centers. He is a husband, father and grandfather. Steve is the author of the book Fight Back Self Defense for Seniors and Everybody Else. He currently supports Rally Against Parkinson’s (RAP), helping to bring support to people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.
Helene Dubay, Secretary
Helene Dubay, OTR/L has committed her life to helping others. She is a registered occupational therapist and driving rehabilitation specialist, currently specializing in working with disabled transitional-age youth interested in learning to drive. As an OT, Helene has 40+ years of experience working with people \ from birth to death, including inpatient, outpatient, nursing homes, home health and vocational rehabilitation settings, as well as being adjunct faculty for Towson University in the Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science Department. She has presented at the Maryland Rehabilitation Conference, Maryland Occupational Therapy Conference and EXPO for Transitional Youth.
Her mission of serving began as a teenager growing up in rural Wisconsin through her school, church and 4-H, continuing into college where she was president of her dorm and student OT organization. Additional volunteer endeavors have included being a Big Sister through Big Brothers & Sisters, scholarship chair for the Maryland OT Association, CCD teacher, school volunteer from grades K-12 and Cub Scout Advancement Chair pre- & post-computer interface. Helene has contributed locally as a commissioner on the Commission on Disabilities 2006-2018, being Chair of the EXPO for Transitioning Youth 2008-2018, an interagency collaborative effort to provide resources for youth and their families for life after high school. Since 2009, she has been a medical volunteer and client service team co-facilitator for Volunteers for Medical Engineering (aka VME or V-LINC), a Baltimore-based non-profit serving central Maryland providing customized solutions for people with disabilities.
When not working, Helene enjoys spending time with her family, supporting the local arts community, cooking, reading, traveling and all things quilting!
Daniel Dubay, Treasurer
Daniel P. Dubay is the treasurer for Rally Against Parkinson’s Harford. A Maine native, Dan relocated to Maryland in 1976 to attend St.Mary’s Seminary and University, where he completed a bachelor of arts in Theology in 1980. Meanwhile, he met Helene Nelson, and they were married in 1978. A year later, Dan began a career with the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) with the State of MD, an organization devoted to assisting individuals with disabilities. The primary goal of DORS is to provide services to enable individuals with disabilities to obtain or retain competitive employment. Before his retirement in 2012, Dan served in various capacities at DORS, including as a field counselor, disability claims examiner, trainer and as a staff specialist coordinating and managing statewide needs for individuals needing home modifications, vehicle modifications and computer training.
Dan and Helene have three grown sons. The family enjoys traveling together, and Dan also enjoys woodworking, home fix-up, cooking — especially smoking foods for barbecue — reading and hanging out with their dog Bingo. Dan was active in Boy Scouts when his sons were younger, and also enjoyed camping.
Since 2013, Dan has learned to create decorative bird carvings. He assists at carving classes at a local Senior Center, and he creates carvings for family and friends. He also donates them to RAP for fundraising events.
Debbie Umbarger, Grants Director
Debbie currently serves as editor for the local magazine Harford’s Heart. She is still an active Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. Her enthusiasm for helping others and a firm belief that excellence is achieved through commitment and effort are behind Debbie’s personal and professional life choices. The energy that she brought in her career as a teacher at Homestead-Wakefield for over 24 years, personal trainer and group fitness instructor, field hockey coach, Rock Steady Boxing Coach and health columnist for Harford’s Heart is a testament to her passion for a healthy, active lifestyle.
Debbie serves as the grant writer for Rally Against Parkinson’s. Her involvement with Rock Steady Boxing began seven years ago when a friend at the gym she was working in asked her if she could start a boxing class. There were only five people in this small group with one thing in common, Parkinson’s Disease. Having a group fitness boxing certification, she agreed. As word spread, so did the number of members. Debbie received her Rock Steady Boxing certification from the national training center in Indianapolis in 2016. From a humble beginning, the class grew into what is now the thriving program currently offered.
In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, golf and traveling with her husband and daughters.
Ken Rankin, Fundraising Director
Ken is a RAP board member and leads the group’s fundraising activities. Originally from Southern Illinois, Ken is a 30-year resident of Harford County.
A close friend with Parkinson’s raised his awareness of the disease and its impact on millions of people in the US. The information prompted Ken to become involved in RAP. Ken has organized multiple fundraising events for RAP including Rock and Roll Bingo, RAP Bull Roast and Music on Main St.
Ken is married and has two children.
Tricia Stecklair, Volunteer Coordinator
A graduate of Towson University, Tricia has worked for Element Fleet Management for the past 24 years as a Senior Business Consultant, helping major corporate customers like Home Depot and Travelers Insurance reduce their vehicle fleet costs. In the past, she has led many fundraisers for several schools and charities.
Like so many people afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease, the initial symptoms were thought to be muscle and tendon strains that affected her range of movement. But as the years passed and the symptoms grew worse, Tricia was referred to a Neurologist and Movement Specialist who confirmed she had Parkinson’s. It was her Movement Specialist who recommended Rock Steady Boxing and Tricia began attending classes in early 2021.
“Taking RSB was the best advice I’ve gotten for dealing with my movement issues and mental well-being. The camaraderie, the workouts and the new friendships have made such a huge difference in my life,” says Tricia. Wanting to give back, Tricia has joined the RAP Board as the Volunteer Coordinator.
Tricia and her husband, Rich, live in Bel Air and have one son, who lives nearby. Tricia loves spending time with her family, friends and extended family, her stepchildren and 3 grandchildren, working out and decorating.