Author: maria

Kali on playset

Kali Abernathie

“My “why” for building is to give these amazing kids and families a little bit of sunshine and hope when going through such a hard time. If I can make them smile and forget for even one day about cancer then it’s all worth it. I do believe that play defeats cancer and giving back to others feels good and makes me happy.”

Aaron Taylor

Aaron Taylor

“My why is to be able to show complete strangers that people care. That people are willing to take time out of their busy lives to come together and Build Hope for a family going through one of the toughest times of their lives.”

Sam Hill

Sam Hill

“I find a lot of purpose in giving some piece of fun and enjoyment to families that are in such an unfair situation. Seeing the kids and their families play and just enjoy the moment shows us that our efforts are worthwhile. Also, being involved with the Roc Solid volunteer family has been a major cornerstone of my life, having led to so much growth and so many powerful relationships.”

Les Halstead

Les Halstead

“When I finally retired at the end of 2020, I was looking forward to traveling, playing golf, and having time for my drawing and painting. Within 3 weeks of retiring I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Gut check! I was scared and angry, but mostly scared. Not exactly what I had planned for retirement! Nor had I planned to spend the winter & spring in treatment. Thankfully, I got lucky; the cancer was caught early and the treatment has been successful thus far. Then, this past summer, my daughter introduced me to Roc Solid Foundation… I know firsthand what a cancer diagnosis feels like, but I can’t imagine what it feels like to the parents who receive a cancer diagnosis for one of their children. I’m here for the families and kids and I’m truly grateful that I get to help in a small way.”

Ted Quinn

Ted Quinn

Ted’s grandson was diagnosed with pediatric cancer (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) in December of 2018 at the age of three. As a “grand” papa bear, Ted saw firsthand the Roc Solid Ready Bag delivery and its profound impact on his family. Since his grandson successfully completed his cancer treatment in June of 2022, this proud grandfather is ready to pay it forward through Roc Solid Foundation. Also, a cancer survivor himself, Ted wants to help achieve the shared goal of providing a Ready Bag to every child diagnosed with cancer in the country.

As of 2013, Ted took over ownership and operations and is the current President and CEO of Health Research of Hampton Roads, a clinical research facility in Newport News. He and his wife Rita reside in Hampton.

Ted loves being on the water and spending time with his family, including the two apples of his eye, grandson Cameron and granddaughter Madelyn.

Mike on swing

Mike Wiegand

He says his worst quality is singing… which really makes us want to take him to a karaoke party.

But what he lacks in performing arts, he makes up for in building playsets. As a program coordinator, Mike works with our build leaders and oversees all the logistics that go into our Play It Forward program.

Mike graduated from Longwood University with a Bachelors in Therapeutic Recreation and is also a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. He has a long history of involvement with nonprofits and loves making a positive impact in his work.

He’s enthusiastic, passionate, open-minded and easy to convince for tagging along on last-minute adventures.


Kelly Perdomo

Kelly always knew she wanted to work with kids. But it wasn’t until her sister was diagnosed with Leukemia that she was introduced to Roc Solid Foundation.

“My sister passing away taught me how short life can be and made me realize that I needed to do something I was passionate about. That’s how I knew Roc Solid was a perfect fit.”

A graduate of Old Dominion University, Kelly is best described as a kind, nurturing person. Which is why she’s so good at working with our Roc Solid families. In many ways, she can relate to what they’re going through, and she’s grateful for the opportunity to spread a little hope to them during their toughest days.

Kelly’s favorite quote pretty much sums her up: “In seeking happiness for others, you will find it in yourself.”

Rebecca Gaster

Rebecca Gaster

She says people describe her as the most ridiculous person they know… but we’re sure they mean that in the best possible way. It’s because she’s always smiling, always laughing and never takes herself too seriously.

Rebecca is our engagement specialist working with sponsor groups and volunteers to make sure they have good experiences at our events and to help them find other opportunities to get involved.

A graduate of Virginia Tech, Rebecca also has her Project Management Professional certification, as well as lots of nonprofit experience in volunteer coordination and fundraising.

“I’m called to do this job because of the amazing team I get to work with and the families and volunteers I meet. We have an incredible community, and I feed off of their motivation to love and serve our kiddos and families.”

Play. Defeats. Cancer.

John Janin

“John? Oh, he’s the loud one.” It’s true, but he’s also got a huge, loyal heart for kids fighting cancer. In fact, he’s been involved with Roc Solid literally since it started. As the (volunteer) Director of Play It Forward back then, he was a part of every playset build for the first four years.

John grew up in Portsmouth and received his Bachelor’s in Biology from Christopher Newport University (pretty smart, huh?). He worked in the landscaping industry for many years but always knew he’d officially join the Roc Solid team one day.

“Everything happens for a reason, and now I get to live out the dream I had when Roc Solid started,” he says.


Kathleen Hansen, CCLS

At first impression, Kathleen is very serious, very passionate and very driven. But get to know her, and you realize there’s much more. She’s sarcastic, witty and lots of fun, too.

Kathleen graduated from Wingate University and is a Certified Child Life Specialist, most recently working at a children’s hospital before joining our team. So she already had experience with Roc Solid, handing out Ready Bags to families at diagnosis.

“I had seen what these kids go through in treatment, and I wanted to provide them with positive experiences to have at home. There’s a special place in my heart for these little warriors to have made me laugh, made me cry and made me proud to know them.”

We knew immediately she was a perfect fit for our team, because that dedication to kids fighting cancer has made her great at her job of engaging Roc Solid sponsors and families.

© Roc Solid Foundation