United in marriage in 1994 Stephen and Rebecca started their family in 1998. They were blessed with three children, Brittany, Erin and Chase.
Stephen has been employed with ENCON Heating & A/C for over 30 years. Rebecca has been a stay at home mother since 1998. As a family they have come together through grief and perseverance overcoming their struggles because of the spiritual belief that Chase guides them through the multitude of challenges this tragedy has put in front of them. Through a vision, Chase came to Rebecca and spoke to her stating
“We are gonna change the world” at the time not fully understanding she followed her heart with blind faith to create the CMAK foundation along with the love and support of family and friends. For the past six years they have created a legacy that has positively impacted thousands of children and their families, while honoring the spirit of their AMAZING CHASE.
A longtime family friend of the Kowalski’s, Michele Orzechowski, is the Secretary and Treasurer for the CMAK Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation. As a married mother of two, and known to Chase as “auntie,” Michele is known for her commitment of strong family values and creating events that incorporate a sense of safe, active, honest, and playful togetherness.
Michele currently holds a full time position as General Manager of Tile America in New Haven, Connecticut. During her 27 years there, she has moved through the ranks in various positions including sales, warehousing, inventory, purchasing,
accounting, human resources and industry information technology. This background has given her the ability to adapt to many changing situations and refocus with both a business aspect as well as a personal, human response. Her loyalty is immense.
During her free time throughout the year, you can find her planning and cooking for many family gatherings, or attending activities involving her children and their many interests. Michele resides in Connecticut with her husband, Rob, daughter, Jess, son, John and two humorous beagles. She hopes her involvement with the Foundation will bring genuine PEACE, LOVE, LIGHT and INSPIRATION to all she comes in contact with. She is full of gratitude to play a small role in it’s development and future endeavors as we TRIUMPH OVER TRAGEDY and make a difference in many outstanding communities.
Michael Cunningham is the uncle to Stephen Kowalski, and the Great Uncle and partial name sake to Chase Michael-Anthony Kowalski. He was raised in Jackson Heights NY, met and fell in love with his beautiful bride of over 40 years, Mary Lou (Brown) Cunningham, in Smallwood, NY. They have two grown children and seven grand children.
Both have been retired from their very successful careers, Mary Lou as an elementary school teacher and Michael as director of Human resources at Morgan Stanley/Dean Whitter. They have chosen to be a part of the CMAK foundation because of their love of Chase and the family values they believe in.
Jim O'Rourke has been with the Greater Waterbury YMCA for the past ten years in the capacity of Chief Executive Officer. The Waterbury YMCA has over 280 employees and 100 volunteers that engage over 22,500 individuals annually from its nine town service area of Greater Waterbury. Jim has been a part of the YMCA movement for 30 years and started his career at the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA.
Jim resides in Southington with his wife Nicola and son, Jameson.
After a 37 year career with the YMCA, John recently retired as the Executive Director of the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCAs. He felt truly blessed to have a career that matched a passion and personal mission of helping people reach their greatest potential
An avid runner with 80 marathons completed, John has advocated for folks of all ages to stay healthy and on the move
Like many others, Chase has changed John’s live. “Little did we know back on December 14, 2012 how much Chase and his family would positively impact so many people. I am honored to be part of the CMAK family and spreading the message of ‘living your life in love and kindness’”
John is married to Moira and has two children Jack and Catherine
Mark Pooler has been a dedicated staff member of the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCAs for over 30 years and currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer. Mark was introduced to the CMAK Foundation and the magic of the Race4Chase program at the CT Triathlon Finale held annually at YMCA Camp Sloper, which is owned and operated by the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCAs. Mark has always had a strong passion for Youth Development work throughout his career and R4C has grown to be one of his favorite programs at the Y because of the positive impact on youth.
Mark resides in Southington with his wife, Dawn, and children, Matt and Abby. Outside of work, Mark enjoys running, hiking, coaching youth sports, spending time with family and friends and has a large passion for the game of golf!
Kevin Grimes joined the CMAK Advisory Board at its inception. He graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington DC and retired from his 28 year career at Louis Dreyfus Corporation where he was chartering manager for most of his career. He was appointed Executive Director shortly after CMAK was officially formed.