VictoriaVictoria Polega

President, Founder

Victoria’s fervor for philanthropy is contagious. She has worked extensively with numerous charities, including children’s advocacy centers and national centers to prevent child abuse. Her experience as an Office Manager and Setup Director for a foundation that assists elderly, low income and individuals with disabilities has given Victoria operational experience for non-profit organizations.

A native Texan, Victoria graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Applied Learning and Development. Her devotion to serving, carried into her classrooms where she taught her young students to be open minded and community oriented, through inclusion activities. These opportunities were the first time she encountered cerebral palsy. Years later when her son, Ben, was diagnosed with CP she knew she wanted to contribute to the community by helping other families gather information, gain resources and have continued support.

When she’s not immersed in helping CPATH thrive, she can be found playing legos with her boys, exploring Austin and scoping out travel deals.

For grants and family assistance please contact Victoria at victoria@cpathtexas.org

MarielleMarielle Deckard

Secretary, Founder

Marielle’s family moved to the United States from Lima, Peru when she was only five years old. Her family packed up everything they owned and left everything they knew to give Marielle and her siblings a better life. The courage that her mother had to leave home drives Marielle to embody that same inner strength in every aspect of her life.

“It teaches me, that I need to be like [my mother] and I can be like that too, with all the things that come along in our cerebral palsy path,” Marielle said.

Austin became home for Marielle, graduating from the University of Texas with a masters’ degree in civil engineering. With over 20 years experience of supporting executives in the nine to five world, she uses her knowledge and experience to keep CPATH running smoothly and efficiently.

As a wife and mother of three boys, Marielle also keeps active in her children’s school activities, Cub Scouts, sports and being an advocate for her son.

Along with the strength she strives for daily, Marielle loves the shooting sports. She is a member of the Austin Sure Shots, a women’s pistol league. There she learns how to be aware of her surroundings and more secure in herself as well as finding camaraderie. The focus she developed to shoot well aids in keeping her focused on all the many tasks required of her, even when life gets hectic.

For volunteer opportunities please contact Marielle at: marielle@cpathtexas.org

JamieJamie Eppele

Director of Development, Founder

Jamie channels the slogan “Why Do You Tri?” every time she participates in a marathon or triathlon. For her, race events are multi-purposed: first, for personal growth and strength and second, for her kids. Her twin sons, Alexander and Lucas, have both cerebral palsy and autism. Every time she thinks she can’t take another step forward she thinks of her sons and how hard they worked to achieve their very first independent steps at age 5.  They remain her biggest inspiration.

When her twins received their diagnosis, she had no idea how cerebral palsy was going to affect their future.  She had many questions, but few resources.   She decided to do the deep research, seek the knowledge, and gain support both in and outside of the medical community.   She know that someday she wanted to share her findings and help others along in their journeys with CP.

As part of CPATH, she loves seeing the continued impact the organization has on families and the community.  “These are families like mine — seeking friendships, support, guidance, resources, and more as we navigate life with a different ability on an adaptive path.”

For community events and partnerships, please contact Jamie at: jamie@cpathtexas.org

DebbieDebbie Hoad

For Debbie, being part of a large family is something she’s always known. When her two sons moved off to college, she started thinking it was time to find a “community family” to be a part of. She thought working with children would be fulfilling. No sooner than that thought crossed her mind she received an email inviting her to join CPATH.

The work of her great aunt Willomena, who worked for the advancement of women in Austin, inspires Debbie her to attempt tasks she didn’t think were possible. “If I could have ¼ of her gumption, I’d be good,” Hoad said.

In the mornings, she likes to relax in her flower garden away from the bustle of the outside world. Debbie is also an avid college football fan and on the weekends, she drives five hours just to watch her son play at UT Permian Basin.

BrinBrin Hjalmquist

Born with cerebral palsy, Brin knows the challenges that an individual with CP may face, especially when transiting into adulthood. Her experience as a “Professional Patient” led her into a career in the healthcare industry. She hopes that her unique experience can provide a voice especially when it comes to the most vulnerable patients.

As the only board member with CP, Brin continues to ask how we create unique experiences and programs that promote independence for the individuals and families we serve in Central Texas. She treasures her ability to be independent and believes that the CPATH organization is a great platform for the CP community.

Raised in Colorado, Brin enjoys skiing and camping. But, her greatest loves are breakfast tacos and her giant golden retriever, Breckner.

Jinfon_Ong

Dr. Jinfon Ong, M.D.

Dr. Jinfon Ong graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in biochemistry in 1998. He also earned a master of science in human computer interaction from DePaul University in Chicago. Dr. Ong later received his medical degree from Rush University (also in Chicago). He completed his pediatric residency at the University of Texas Southwestern, followed by fellowship training in child neurology at the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Ong was most recently with Pediatric Surgical Subspecialists here in Austin, serving as the spasticity clinic co-director. He also acts as medical director for the local Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinic. Dr. Ong is currently a faculty member for the Child Neurology residency program at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.

ChrissieChrissie Welty

Chrissie has known Victoria’s son, Ben, since he was born and was happy to have an opportunity to support CPATH’s growth efforts because of her own desires to give back to the Austin community.

Every time she gets an opportunity to serve the greater Austin community she takes it, because her employer, Apple Inc. provides opportunities to serve and matches donations. Chrissie’s previous opportunities to give back include cleaning up the Loop 360 hiking trails and registration at the Austin Pride Walk.

Listening to music is Chrissie’s greatest hobby, and in any given month she will attend two or three live concerts or festivals. It doesn’t matter the type of music, but the craftsmanship of the music makes her feel alive.

PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Kelli

Kelli Croll

Kelli thought she was going to be a doctor, but then she found pediatric physical therapy. She worked with kids who had their whole lives ahead of them and saw the happiness they exuded despite their difficult circumstances. She was hooked.

Her passion for helping kids with complex neurological diagnoses motivates her to continue to learn and be more collaborative with her patient’s medical teams, for the benefit of everyone involved. Kelli is always up to a challenge and is inspired by other people’s actions in the greater community.

A devoted Texas Longhorn, she loves to cheer her team on even in the toughest of circumstances. She can also be found trying out new restaurants around town and listening to the great live music that Austin has to offer!

Contact Kelli at kelli@cpathtexas.org