Meet Our Leaders
Together with other volunteers, our leadership staff form the Camp RED
team serving with love, compassion, high energy and loads of knowledge.
They put their hearts into making camp the best experience
for every camper and his/her family.
Meet Our Founder,
From the time Jake woke up in the burn unit of Hennepin County Medical Center, his battle and gratitude for life began leading him down a new path full of surprises, transformations and purpose. Before Camp RED came to fruition, there were many moments of serendipity that Jake humbly calls "thin spaces." Looking back he says it's because that's where he found God's miracles waiting so he could serve others with compassion on a grander scale than as a Station 8 firefighter. And by design, Camp RED is one huge miracle Jake gets to share with burn survivors and their families. Click below to read more about Jake's story.
Ms. Byrd, aka Chief Smile Officer, was raised in Marietta, Georgia and joined the Camp RED family in April 2017. She holds an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and proudly served the children of Douglasville, Georgia for 14 years as a first and second grade teacher. Since 2004, Ms. Byrd has volunteered at Camp Knutson and feels blessed to spend her summers in a place where kids can Realize Every Dream.
Dr. Jon Gayken, MD
Dr. Gayken’s interest in burn surgery began when he was a patient in the HCMC burn unit nearly 20 years ago. His recovery from extensive skin grafting has given him deep passion and knowledge of both the acute and long term psychological outcomes affecting burn patients, their families and the reintroduction into their new life and into society.
Maria joined the Camp RED family in the Fall of 2016. She is no stranger to the life of firefighters because she herself was raised by one. Cultivated at an early age, her passion to serve is evident in her chosen professions. She comes to Camp RED with diverse experience with non-profit organizations including the ACA where she led many camps to be their best. Thanks to her skills, she has created a behind-the-scenes operation at Camp RED that is second to none. She currently works as a therapeutic recreation program director in Chanhassen.
Chris joined the Firefighters For Healing team as the Vice Chair in 2014. He has a unique ability to maximize each hour of every day to connect with people, raise capital and build community. His role on the Board has evolved and utilizes his strengths to make magic happen and build on the dreams we all have for the burn survivor and firefighter community. He lists 'realizing our dream' of launching Camp RED among our team's greatest accomplishments and his favorite memory of the inaugural year at Camp RED was without question the 'water wars' with the Cross Lake firetruck.
Nurse Angie joined the Camp RED team in the summer of 2017. She has spent many years as a burn nurse at HCMC caring for burn patients. She is overjoyed to continue caring for these kiddos outside the hospital at Camp RED. When you see Nurse Angie at camp, she's the one carrying around the camera. In-between mending bumps and bruises with ice packs and band-aides, she serves as the unofficial camp photographer. Some would say it is her insurance policy to avoid being pushed into the lake or splashed with water!