Getting to know: Kelli Kickerillo
Native Houstonian Kelli Kickerillo knows a thing or two about a successful event. As chair of the 2015 Houston A Conversation With a Living Legend®, Kelli and her husband, Todd Forester, raised more than $1 million for MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program. Kelli serves as events chair for MD Anderson's Advance Team, a volunteer board of "next generation" community and business leaders. No matter what the event, Kelli and her family remain focused on Making Cancer History® for cancer patients and survivors around the world.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised right here in Houston, Texas. My husband, Todd Forester, and I have one son, named Kick. Professionally, I work with my parents at our family business, Kickerillo Companies. We are land developers and home builders, and I serve as executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
How did you come to know MD Anderson?
Growing up in Houston, I've always known about MD Anderson. What struck me most, besides the incredible research and amazing patient care, was the fact that I've had the opportunity to meet so many survivors, many who have been living 20 or 30 years since their initial diagnosis and treatment. These survivors are a testimony to MD Anderson and the institution's mission to end cancer - it's truly becoming more of a reality.
Why is it important to you to support this mission to end cancer?
MD Anderson's mission struck closer to home when my mother had a small scare in the '90s. Fortunately, it turned out not to be cancer, but it gave us the opportunity to learn more about the benefits available through the Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center. I think many people don't realize that MD Anderson also can help you reduce your cancer risk - the doctors in the cancer prevention program are absolutely wonderful. A few years ago, when I had a small scare myself, I received nothing but the best care and peace of mind while I was in the hands of the doctors there.
How did you become involved with the Advance Team?
Joining the Advance Team was an opportunity to play a more active role in the fight against cancer. Recently, I was asked to be a part of the executive team to chair the events committee. Then, Todd and I were asked to co-chair the Houston Living Legend event. It's been such an educational experience.
What message do you have for patients at MD Anderson?
I say you are halfway there simply by being a patient at MD Anderson. The entire organization, from the volunteers, the physicians and nurses, the executive staff, the Board of Visitors and the Advance Team, are behind you. The combined years of experience in patient care and the advances in treatment that I've already mentioned are what set this institution apart in the nation and world.