Meet Our Community Advisory Committee


Kathy MarekKathy Marek

Kathy began her career working as a cardiac nurse at Loyola University Medical Center.  She is the proud mother to three boys and one girl. Kathy quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom.  When Dr. Marek started Young Hearts for Life® in 2005, Kathy became involved with the program and has been a part of the team ever since. “The thought of losing a child is something I can not even imagine. Through Young Hearts for Life®, I feel I have made a real difference.   The program isfirst rate and the people involved are the most dedicated, amazing volunteers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.  Not only do I love working with the kids and the volunteers I’m proud to be a part of the YH4L team.”


Deb MarszalekDeb Marszalek

Many moons ago, Deb was fortunate to be able to retire from her Cardiac Cath Lab nursing position to become a full time, travel hockey/PTA mom to two healthy young sons.  With many years of volunteer work under her belt, and one too many PTA meetings, she became the volunteer coordinator for their high school’s first YH4L screening in the spring of 2007. “I fell in love with the program!  I continue to volunteer with YH4L, became a team leader and an instructor for the program.  Every screening I am blessed to attend, I leave the school exhausted, having met so many wonderful & caring people.  Nothing is better than working with others to make a real difference in someone’s life, and sharing cookie Friday with all the wonderful team leaders/now friends.”    


Sandy RichardsSandy Richards

Sandy Richards first became involved with Young Hearts for Life® as the Downers Grove North High School (DGN) parent volunteer coordinator in 2006 when DGN was one of the first schools to participate in the screening program. Over the years her involvement grew from the initial recruitment of parents to be a Trainer for YH4L — training parents and other community volunteers to participate when the program comes to their local high school. Prior to her involvement in YH4L, Sandy was a Girl Scout leader for over 10 years, served on the Board of Directors for Family Shelter Services and on the board of her local chapter of United Way and remains active in her church.  In her free time, Sandy enjoys taking ballroom dance lessons but does admit after over 2 years of lessons, she still has “2 left feet”. Sandy has a BS degree from Carroll University and a MBA from Loyola and has been employed by the 2217 Group for over 11 years.


Chris SchneiderChris Schneider

Chris is a former CCU nurse at the Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and an office nurse for Midwest Heart for 15 years.  “I participate in YH4L because we save lives!”




Sharon SmithSharon Smith

Sharon graduated from college with a business degree and became a stay at home mom after her 3rd child was born. She volunteered when YH4L came to Wheaton Warrenville South High School and loved it.  This will be her 6th year as a team leader for the program. “I had no previous medical background, but the hands on training made it very easy for me to learn the basics in order to help the doctors. I love volunteering for YH4L and go home after every screening feeling like we truly have made a difference in the life of a child.  It is super rewarding for me and I continue to look forward to each screening.”


Chris StrattonChris Stratton

Chris and her husband have lived in Naperville for 33 years. They have three grown children. She has been a mortgage loan originator for the past 18 years.  Now that they are “empty nesters,” Chris has jumped  back into the pool and swims on a Masters Swim Team.  She also likes to read, garden, knit & crochet but spending time with her family is tops on her list of things to do.  “I got involved with YH4L after my daughter was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. She had a procedure done to correct it and is happy and healthy today!  I realized that we were very blessed and wanted to help prevent other families from the tragedy of losing a child. I am thrilled to be able to volunteer for such a wonderful program working alongside such a great group of people.”


screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-10-59-09-amNancy Schwabauer

Nancy began her 27 year career at Elmhurst Hospital as a nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit and advanced to the position of cardiology educator and Clinical Nurse Specialist. She received her BSN from University of Illinois Medical Center and her Master of Science in Nursing from Northern Illinois University. Ultimately, she spent many years with Midwest Heart Specialists cardiology. She and her husband became involved in YH4L in 2010 as retirement neared. “Both of us thoroughly enjoy working with the volunteers and the young people we are committed to serve. It is my opinion that the program makes a difference in the lives of the young people who are our future.” Nancy and her husband are proud parents of two daughters and sons-in-law and six grandchildren.