Ben Watson, Founder – Born and raised in Orlando, Ben attended high school at Lake Highland Preparatory School. He is now pursuing vocal performance at the University of Central Florida. Ben enjoys singing, the outdoors, and riding motorcycles with his friends. Having recently marked 7 years in remission, Ben is happy to be working with such dedicated and passionate people to help families affected by pediatric cancer. He is happy to see that his idea as a 14-year-old pediatric cancer patient has grown into a successful foundation.
Hillary Watson, Entertainment Central Agency; Central Florida Talent – Hillary, born and raised in Orlando, Florida, is proud to call herself a Watson. Hillary attended Westminster College of the Arts at Rider university where she received her B.M. in Musical Theater. Hillary pursued an exciting career in the performing arts for her first few years out of college, performing in theaters around Florida and at Universal Studios Orlando. Growing up in a real estate family, it was only a matter of time before she decided to follower in her her father’s footsteps and start a new journey as a Realtor and Real Estate Investor. Hillary still loves the arts and plans to pursue this on the side for her enjoyment. She is an avid traveler and loves meeting new people. Volunteering has always been a bit part of Hillary’s life, and she is deeply passionate about the work we are doing to help families with children battling cancer. She will always consider Benji Watson her hero.
Barry Watson, Watson Real Estate & Management – Born and raised in Hancock, Minnesota, Barry moved down to Florida in 1982 to start his own real estate company with his sister, and now has over 30 years of experience in his field. He is a licensed Real Estate Broker, Contractor, and Insurance Agent. Barry has been a huge advocate for low income housing and thus has developed and built hundreds of homes in the Orlando area. Since the day of its conception, Barry has been a huge part of The Benji Watson Cancer Foundation. From helping Ben get the idea off the ground, to getting it to where it is today, Barry is the force behind our success. He could not be more proud of what we have achieved and looks forward to growing the foundation for years to come. Barry loves traveling the world with his family and enjoying his backyard on Lake Ivanhoe.
Becky Watson, Watson Real Estate & Management – While not native to the Orlando area, Becky has spent more than 30 years here and now calls Orlando home. She obtained her master’s degrees in Speech Pathology and Business Administration, and then pursued a rewarding career, first in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and then at Florida Hospital for 15 years. She now works in her family real estate business and enjoys the perks of being self-employed. Becky loves traveling the world, going to the beach, and spending quality time with her family. She is the mother of Hillary and Ben, and thus has a very personal connection to this Foundation. Becky’s hard work and passion for this organization is what enables us to help so many families in need.
Mikaela Odell, Wyndham Vacation Ownership – Mikaela attended the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Event Management. She currently works for Wyndham Destinations as a Corporate Event Coordinator and has past experience in marketing. Her innate abilities for efficiency and organization make her a great fit for the Benji Watson Cancer Foundation Board of Directors, and she plays a key role each year in helping plan and carry out our annual fundraiser. On a personal level, Mikaela enjoys an active lifestyle and is an avid runner, participating in races all over the United States. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family and loves to travel for fun when she gets the chance.
Janie Drummond, Community Volunteer
David M. Schreiber, Commercial Airline Pilot (ret.) – David Schreiber, a retired commercial airline pilot and small business owner, joined the Board of Directors in 2017. He feels honored and privileged to work with Ben Watson and his family for the noteworthy cause of helping other families affected by the challenges of childhood cancer.
Hon. Margaret H. Schreiber, Circuit Court Judge – Judge Schreiber was appointed as a Circuit Judge in 2011 and re-elected in 2014. She received her A.B. in Political Science from Duke University and graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1981. She has served as President of the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers, Chair of the Professional Women’s Exchange, and Editor of the Orange County Barr Association’s publication The Briefs. She has served on the Orange County Citizens Dispute Resolution Board, and won the Outstanding Service Award from the Orange County Bar Association. Judge Schreiber and her family stood by the Watsons throughout Ben’s cancer battle, and she is passionate about continuing the work that the Foundation has started.
John Gibbs, Shareholder; Lowndes, Dropsdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A.
Kelly Johnson, Lake Highland Preparatory School – Having worked at Lake Highland Preparatory School for over 20 years, Kelly has been extremely involved with her students, chaperoning trips and dances, supporting them in arts, sports, events, and extra-curricular activities. She was honored to be a part of Ben’s journey as he fought his cancer battle. Because of her compassion for her students, as well as her passion for those in the Central Florida community who have less, Kelly was asked to be a part of this Board, helping to serve our community and its struggling children and families.
Shanon Larimer, CEO, Larimer & Co. // Branding Studios – Shanon is a seasoned brand strategist who supports globally integrated corporations that are hungry for change, disruptive by nature, and reflect a genuine affinity for society. He has made good use of his passport, working across geographies and cultures to deliver ideas that build identity and drive bottom-line performance for people and brands. As Founder and CEO of Larimer & Co. Branding Studios, Shanon leads an innovative team of international professionals in the development and execution of customized strategic campaigns for both emerging businesses as well as global corporations within the hospitality, entertainment, travel and tourism industries. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for the Benji Watson Cancer Foundation, Shanon serves on the Board of Directors for the City of Orlando’s Downtown Arts District, the Orange County Regional History Center. He is also on the Board of Trustees for The Neon Museum in Las Vegas. His guiding principles are his two sons, Shawn and Charles.
Elyse Starling, Project Manager, Arnold Palmer Medical Center
Dr. Alejandro Levy, Oncologist, Arnold Palmer Medical Center – Alejandro Levy has been a physician with the Haley Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children since 2009. Dr. Levy is board certified in general pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology. He completed his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Center in Houston and his pediatric residency at Miami Children’s Hospital. He earned his medical degree at the Universidad Central Del Caribe in Puerto Rico and his bachelor’s degree at Loyola University New Orleans. He is dedicated to the physical and emotional well-being of children and adolescents who are battling cancer and hematologic diseases.
Garrett Ponda, Florida Hospital R.N. – Hello, everyone. I’m Garrett. I currently work at Florida Hospital as a Registered Nurse in a cardiac and pulmonary progressive care unit. I love my job and all the opportunities to help people, and I feel that I am doing something positive for others. While in nursing school, I worked as a nurse assistant in a senior care agency performing home healthcare. The main client that I cared for was Ben’s grandfather. Spending every weekend at their house for two years, I pretty much met the whole family, and I learned about the foundation and Ben’s battle with cancer. It quickly became more than just a part time job. As I was nearing the end of school and the start of an RN career, I asked if there was anything I could do to help… and here I am.