About Us

Miles Against Melanoma is a nationwide non-profit organization whose mission is to fight melanoma by increasing awareness, supporting patients, survivors and families and fundraising for research.


Jessica (Vega) Rogowicz


Jessica Rogowicz is the Co-Director of Miles Against Melanoma 5k PA. She is a 31 year old middle school math teacher. Jessica and her husband, Scott, had their first child, Hailey, just 11 days after the first Miles Against Melanoma 5k.   Jessica has battled melanoma twice. Her first diagnosis was when she was 24 years old. The melanoma was found on her back. The second time in June 2011, melanoma was found on the back of her leg. Both cases were Stage 1 melanoma. She has also had many precancerous moles removed throughout her life.

Jessica vacationed each year at the beach and used tanning beds frequently in her teens and early 20s. She had no idea that someone could damage their skin at such an early age until she was diagnosed with the most deadly type of skin cancer.Her blog titled, “2 Battles with Melanoma in 28 Years” can be accessed here.

Jessica lives in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh with her husband, Scott, and their two children, Hailey and Drew.

Her personal experience with melanoma has encouraged her to bring awareness to the dangers of skin cancer. Jessica encourages everyone to see a dermatoligist on a regular basis. She is extremely motivated to help spread melanoma awareness through the growth of the organization.

If you would like to contact Jessica Rogowicz, she can be reached here.



Lauren Simko

Lauren Simko became Co-Director of Miles Against Melanoma 5k PA in 2012, after participating in the first Miles Against Melanoma 5k in June 2012.

Lauren lost her father, Joseph L. Vavrek, to stage IV melanoma in May, 2010.  Joseph (Joe) was diagnosed in the summer of 2009 after what was supposed to be a routine surgery.  During removal of a cantaloupe-sized cyst, a cantaloupe-sized tumor was found, diagnosed as melanoma.  After treatment with chemotherapy that proved to be unsuccessful, Joe attempted to enroll into experimental treatment at Hillman Cancer Center.  It was determined he did not qualify.  Joe agreed to donate blood to assist with future research on this disease on a number of occasions.

Joe passed away at home after the cancer spread throughout his internal organs and into his brain, only 10 months after diagnosis.  Joe began having seizures and could no longer communicate with his family or hospice care.  Joe was surrounded by his daughters and wife, Marlene when he passed.

Lauren is a pharmacist and currently oversees the operations department at her company as Vice President.  Lauren and her husband, Jantzen have 2 wonderful children, Kealie and Layne.

Since losing her father, Lauren sees a dermatologist regularly as she has many risk factors and has had many precancerous moles removed.  Lauren and Jessica have the same goal of increasing awareness by growing the organization so other individuals can protect themselves from the dangers of this deadly disease.

If you would like to contact Lauren Simko, she can be reached here.



Lori Gevaudan

Currently Lori (Costello) Gevaudan works as a Research Data Coordinator at the Hillman Cancer Center in the Head and Neck Center.  Lori had previously worked as a Medical Assistant for 13 years mostly in Primary Care and one year at the Cancer Center at St. Margaret’s.  Lori has always wanted to get into cancer research ever since losing her mother to breast cancer when she was just 4 years old. 
In early 2010 Lori’s son, Nick Conn, a 2007 graduate of Serra Catholic, turned 21 and was an active college student working towards his degree at Clarion University.  In April 2010, when he started complaining of leg pain resembling sciatica, she never imagined that within weeks he would be diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma and be fighting for his life.  For 4 months, Nick underwent numerous surgeries and experimental treatments in his fight against this disease.   On September 13, 2010, Nick took his last breath and was finally free of the pain and tumors that had so aggressively taken over his young body.
Since Nick’s death Lori, along with her son, Brendan, have made it their mission to share Nick’s fight with everyone they meet.  Lori is excited to work with Miles Against Melanoma and to use Nick’s experience to educate people (especially young people) about the dangers of tanning and the importance of getting regular skin checks.   
                                                                             One wish…free!

Alanna Dybus

Alanna once thought that Melanoma was one of those ‘easy fixes’ – the kind that could simply be removed with a small outpatient procedure.  It wasn’t until two of her close friends were faced with losses of loved ones (both in their early 20′s) that Alanna realized that those who simply needed a mole removed were the lucky ones and that Melanoma Awareness needed to be spread to people of all ages.  Alanna’s mom, aunt, grandma and grandpa have all had to have some melanoma procedures done, but luckily they caught in the very early stages.  Alanna was inspired by her best friend to become part of the Miles Against Melanoma organization.

Alanna is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She currently lives in Lawrenceville with her fiance and fur baby and is currently training for her second half marathon.  She is passionate about marketing and recently completed her MBA at the University of Pittsburgh.

Jayna Varley-Ifft

Barry Conn


Patty VanDyke


Disclaimer: Miles Against Melanoma is devoted to educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute professional medical care. Information provided by us should not be used for diagnosing or treating a skin problem or disease. If you have or suspect you have a skin problem please consult with a dermatologist, or other qualified professional healthcare provider.