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VERY inspirational PEOPLE


THROUGH HIS WORK with the nonprofit Susan G. Komen Great Plains, Rod Kestel knows that breast cancer survival rates have improved over the years, thanks to better treatments and early detection. He’s also heard countless inspiring stories and met a lot of survivors and their spouses and partners.

Some of the supporters and 120 attendees are already asking about the next koMEN Night Out, he added, and Kestel said he is game. “Already people want to be involved…like most things, you do it once a year and you then just make it grow.”

Kestel is also acutely aware that breast cancer is still a formidable disease. Although almost 90 percent of women survive after five years, there are still another ten percent who don’t. On November 2, 2011, Kestel’s wife Kate—only 53 years old—died of breast cancer.

Kestel said he knows his wife would be pleased with his efforts to provide a source of inspiration and support to other families who have faced breast cancer. “I wanted to make a difference. She’d be very proud,” he said.

Family of givers As an executive for Waitt Outdoor Advertising, “doer and finisher” Kestel is already good at leadership. His degree in marketing, public relations and advertising from Creighton University is another great asset when it comes to being an event organizer. But Kestel’s passion for community service comes Kate Kestel fought the disease for three and a half years from the heart. He’s served numerous boards and nonprofits before it took her life. She left behind not only her “When I lost my wife, over the years, and he currently participates in activities husband, but also young adult sons Chris and Tim and with cancer nonprofit Kicks for the Cure, DEFY Ventures support was there… daughter Lauren. (an employment and character development program but none… for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals), had experienced Rod Kestel said he became involved with the Komen the National College Football Return Specialist foundation because he felt that surviving partners Award (The Jet Award) board of directors, and an actual loss. needed to be represented and supported. Creighton University’s National Alumni Board—in There’s a need for addition to Susan G. Komen Great Plains. something like this.” “I got on the Komen board because when I lost my wife, support was there from friends, but none of them had “I’m really involved in the community and I really believe ROD KESTEL experienced an actual loss. There’s a need for something like in Omaha. We’re so lucky to be in a community that’s so F this,” he explained. “From a guy’s standpoint, or the husband or giving like we are. If you want to get involved, you can. That’s the spouse, we have to be positive, we have to be upbeat, we have to something I’ve done since I graduated from Creighton,” he said. be there for our kids. And a lot of time the males get forgotten. That’s one of the main reason I got on the board, was to hopefully make a difference for some of The Kestels have had a long tradition of community involvement, he added. “Kate the guys.” was a volunteer in the community, too; she was a giver. She was involved in the early stages of Project Harmony (a collaborative to assist victims of child abuse), Guys’ night out and all three of our kids are involved today,” he said. “They are following what we Last fall, Kestel organized the community’s first “koMEN Night Out” fundraiser to did. It’s that Jesuit education, men and women for others. I firmly believe in that. provide support for men whose wives or loved ones fought, were lost to, or are I like to give and don’t expect anything in return.” battling breast cancer. Aiming to make the event appealing to the male psyche, Kestel secured Certified Transmission CEO Peter Fink’s American Muscle Car Museum The family’s community service also serves to honor and remember Kate, he added. as the event site. He also managed to get Creighton University men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott, whose wife is a breast cancer survivor, as a speaker...less “I have a friend who lost her husband and wasn’t able to say goodbye to him. I’ve than two weeks before the start of basketball season. Through other connections, been asked, ‘Which would you rather have? Would you rather have that or not Kestel was able to garner support from direct sponsorship to prize donations like know?’ I was able to say good-bye and I would much rather have that. It wasn’t a Chicago Cubs baseball tickets and a suit from fine clothier Lindley Clothing. It was good three and half years; we knew in the end it was going to happen. But we a lot of work, Kestel said of his first big fundraiser, which brought in $23,000 to had her for three and a half more years, and that’s a good thing,” he said. support a mobile mammogram program, but he found nearly everyone he asked willing to help. And there are a lot of happy memories to keep, from the couple’s shared enthusiasm for Creighton basketball (“We planned our winters around it.”) to summer days “Knowing so many people, that part was easy,” Kestel said. “It was such a great on the water at Lake Okoboji to Kate’s tremendous love for family. night and there was so much positive feedback from it. The stars and the moon all aligned.” “Being very positive has helped me and helped my kids,” Kestel said. “When Kate was diagnosed she had triple negative breast cancer, which is the worst you can get,” Kestel said. “There has been some progress, but it was one type of breast cancer that was difficult to beat at the time.”


mquarterly • SuMMer 2018


metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY presents metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY’s SPRING 2018 issue online now! metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY is published quarterly b...


metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY presents metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY’s SPRING 2018 issue online now! metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY is published quarterly b...