Mary Mendehall-Core Joins Pinky Swear Foundation as Community Development Representative for Des Moines and Quad Cities Regions

BLOOMINGTON, MINNESOTA (April 26, 2016) – Pinky Swear Foundation announces the recent appointment of Mary Mendenhall-Core as a Community Development Representative in its Des Moines and Quad Cities regions. She will serve as the Foundation’s feet-on-the-ground in Iowa as Pinky Swear expands its presence in markets across the nation, and works to help all families with kids in cancer treatment by 2020.

“We’re thrilled to have talent of Mary’s caliber as we grow our Community Development efforts,” said Brian Nelson, Pinky Swear Executive Director. “With an extensive network and knowledge of the Iowa non-profit landscape, we’ll rely on her skills, creativity and network to build connections between corporate sponsors like Hy-Vee, children’s oncology group hospitals, and communities across central Iowa and the Quad Cities.”

For Pinky Swear Foundation, Mendenhall-Core will build on the mission through generating corporate partnerships, events, peer-to-peer fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and Iowa-area outreach including marketing, media and public relations. Her efforts and strategies will help support families facing pediatric cancer with non-medical financial assistance, and fund experiences that create emotional support. Additionally, she will engage civic and youth leaders to create service learning opportunities and fundraising for local area children with cancer throughout area schools, teams and clubs.

“My daughter Erin battled and beat Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), which is a blood cancer, when she was 16 years old,” added Ms. Mendenhall-Core. “My very personal connection to the Pinky Swear mission makes it a natural fit for me to be a passionate ambassador for the cause.”

Most recently Mendehall-Core was Development & Marketing Director at Iowa Association of Business and Industry, which delivers programs for high school students, college students, emerging leaders, and professionals to expand their knowledge of opportunities in Iowa and enhance their personal leadership skills and associations. Previously she was Development Director at Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa, Event Director at United Way of Central Iowa, and spent 20 years with the Principal Financial Group. Her extensive background in volunteering includes recognition as volunteer of the year for several organizations, in addition to board service and chairing events.

Upcoming events in the Des Moines and Quad Cities markets include the Hy-Vee Pinky Swear Kids Triathlon on July 23, 2016 at Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines, and August 13, 2016 at Bettendorf YMCA in Bettendorf, Iowa. Additionally, Pinky Swear will benefit from its second annual­ 14-hour radio event on Friday, December 9, 2016 on WHO 1040 AM news radio in Des Moines, in tandem with events planned nationwide to celebrate National Pinky Swear Day on December 11, 2016.

The Pinky Swear Story

Pinky Swear Foundation was founded in honor of Mitch Chepokas, who lost his battle to bone cancer in 2003. In December 2002, 9-year-old Mitch overheard his pediatric oncology ward neighbors stressed about money for Christmas gifts, and generously decided to give away his savings – $6,000 – to other kids fighting cancer. After sneaking envelopes of cash under doors and on nightstands, Mitch told his dad it was the most fun he’d ever had, and he wanted to do it again the following year. With a terminal prognosis, his dad had to tell Mitch the truth: that he wouldn’t be around the following Christmas. That’s when Mitch made his dad, Steve, ‘pinky swear promise’ to continue to help families with kids with cancer even after he was gone. To date, over $11 million has been given to brave kids battling cancer in 39 states.

Pediatric Cancer Facts

  • A child is diagnosed with cancer every 45 minutes
  • The average age of diagnosis is 6 years old
  • The average length of treatment is 2 years
  • The average family will spend 25% of its disposable income on non-medical related expenses associated with the treatment of their child
  • One in 11 families with a child diagnosed with cancer will file for bankruptcy
  • Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the U.S.

About Pinky Swear Foundation

Founded in 2003, The Pinky Swear Foundation is a 501c(3) not-for-profit passionately committed to helping children with cancer and their families by being fanatically responsive to the immediate crisis facing families with a childhood cancer diagnosis. Pinky Swear Foundation activities include the world’s largest kids fundraising triathlon series, National Pinky Swear Day on December 11, and other community engagement events around the nation. Visit for more information.


Media Contacts

Jenny Peters, Director of Marketing

Pinky Swear Foundation

Office 952.232.6395

Mobile 612.916.3060

Mary Mendenhall-Core, Community Development Representative – Iowa

Pinky Swear Foundation

Mobile 515-210-7148 

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