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About Us


As the Executive Director and founder of Duchenne San Diego, Helena Jayasuriya became aware of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy when her own nephew was diagnosed with the disease in 1998. As the reality of that diagnosis moved through her family, Helena assisted in organizing several fundraisers to support Duchenne research. This later lead Helena to develop what was initially going to be an annual charity soccer tournament – San Diego’s Kick for a Cure Charity Soccer Tournament & Festival- but quickly evolved into creating a year-round organization dedicated to fundraising for Duchenne. 

Professionally, Helena is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with her own child and adolescent psychotherapy practice. Although she is a native of Malaysia, she feels most at home living in San Diego with her husband Jason.

While Australian Darren Bennett certainly made his mark in the United States as a punter with the San Diego Chargers, including two Pro Bowl births and an impressive record of only having 3 out of 771 punts blocked during his NFL career, Darren is even better known as a tireless supporter of charities in the San Diego Region.

Not just satisfied to lend his name to events and causes, Darren rolls up his sleeves by working with groups such as Project Mercy where he and Southern California contractors build 50 houses in one day for the neediest neighborhoods in Tijuana, Mexico. After Darren's own son was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2002, Darren founded the Pro Player Foundation along with fellow NFL players John Carney and Steve Christie. Their mission is to seek out and assist cutting edge research that will not only lead to a cure for DMD but many other genetic diseases as well.

Darren and his wife Rosemary reside in Carlsbad with their sons Will and Thomas.

Paul Buckley has been a part of Duchenne San Diego since the inception of its signature fundraiser, the Kick for a Cure Charity Soccer Tournament & Family Festival. He has since been committed to help those with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Paul has been involved with soccer for most of his life and was captain for the Tufts University soccer team in 1984. Paul now coaches for Manchester Carmel Valley, and has been involved in numerous soccer tournaments throughout southern California. Paul is a Partner with the law firm of Taylor Anderson L.L.P. in San Diego. He has been a lawyer in San Diego for 23 years. Paul is married and lives in San Diego with his wife Randy, where they raise their four children, all of which are past and present participants in Kick for a Cure for Duchenne Tournaments.

Roxi joined Duchenne San Diego in 2009. She has been an Adapted P.E. teacher with the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District for 15 years, and has worked with many students with disabilities including Duchenne.

Roxi knows first-hand about the challenges faced by families who are impacted by children with disabilities, as her younger brother has Down Syndrome. Roxi is very much inspired by her brother, who has overcome numerous challenges to become a happy, hard-working adult, as well as a contributing member to his community. This is what led Roxi into her passion for special education and enthusiasm to be part of Duchenne San Diego. Roxi is an avid soccer player and runner. She enjoys spending time with her family, and enjoying everything about San Diego.

While Jason Gordon has been a life-long soccer fan and player, he never expected the sport to take on such a personal meaning as it does with Duchenne San Diego. In 1998, his nephew was diagnosed with Duchenne. Faced with the immediate reality that Duchenne was an incurable disease, Jason became determined to help those affected with the condition. Shortly thereafter, the Kick for a Cure Soccer Charity Tournament & Festival was created, and Duchenne San Diego was founded.  Since then, Jason has watched first hand both the progression of this disease, and the remarkable courage displayed by both the children who have Duchenne, and the parents and family members who lead a daily fight to lessen the physical and emotional impact this disease carries. Watching a child kick a soccer ball or run across the field is no longer something that Jason takes for granted. Originally from Los Angeles, Jason attended college and graduate school in San Diego. He has worked in the banking and mortgage industry since 1991, and is currently a Residential Mortgage Specialist at AmeriFirst Financial. Jason’s previous company played a generous role in the development of Kick for a Cure as the Title Sponsor for the first ever Kick for a Cure Charity Soccer Tournament & Festival  in 2005.

Dan Petro began his involvement with Duchenne San Diego when the organization was still known as Kick for a Cure.  Dan provided assistance in the development and operation of the Kick for a Cure Charity Soccer Tournament & Festival, and later helped form the Duchenne San Diego organization itself.

As a Behavior Analyst Dan’s work includes supporting children with special needs and their families. Dan has been motivated by seeing individuals in the community volunteering to make a difference, and by people with special needs moving beyond any expected limitations of their disability.

Dan lives in Australia with his very patient spouse, Jane.

Abby Westerman in the newest member of the Duchenne San Diego Board of Directors but has actually been an integral member of the Kick for a Cure Event Committee since its very beginnings. Her involvement has grown from the “Click for a Cure” photo booth, inspired by her then 8 year old daughter Kirsten, into an annual passion for finding new and unique ways to ensure FUN is the emphasis in the Kick for a Cure FunZone. Abby has been inspired by the Duchenne families she has met, and is in awe of the strength that can come from the community experience facilitated by Duchenne San Diego.

Abby has a Master’s degree in Engineering, and has worked as an engineer for the Navy for over 25 years.  She is married and lives in San Diego with her husband John and two children, Andrew and Kirsten. The entire Westerman family has supported the Kick for a Cure FunZone every year, and it is their collective hope that a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is found soon.

Prior Board Members

Zoë Chapin has been part of Duchenne San Diego since the very beginning and has dedicated herself to help raise funds to support developing a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Zoë is also motivated by the organization's mandate to provide assistance to families in the San Diego region who are affected by DMD. Zoë also does charity work for The Thursday Club and has participated in many other philanthropic events in the San Diego region. Zoë and her husband Eddie reside in San Diego with their young daughter, Abby.

Dave Miller has been making a mark on the San Diego region in the area of sports and event marketing as the President and CEO of Integrated Sports Marketing (ISM) which he founded in 1999.

While Dave's company has produced events such as the Drew Brees Celebrity Classic, the Pechanga Celebrity Poker Challenge, Yachtfest San Diego, Philip Rivers 5K & Fun Run, and the Stephen Strasburg 5K with Tony Gwynn, he is equally pleased to lend his skills to several philanthropic organizations as a Board Member. These include The Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, the American Diabetes Association - San Diego Chapter, the Aztecs Athletic Foundation, and Duchenne San Diego, where he was one of the Founding Members.

Before becoming a Duchenne San Diego Board Member, Mike Tarantino had already been a believer in the value of the Organization's mission. As the Director of Maintenance and Operations for the Poway Unified School District, Mike opened the door to providing a wonderful venue to host the annual soccer tournament.

Additionally, Mike's expertise in the world of youth and competitive soccer has provided Kick for a Cure with critical insights as the organization strives to fulfill its mission of working with individuals and organizations in the San Diego Region and beyond to positively impact the lives of children and young adults with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Mike serves on the Board of Directors for the Nomads Soccer Club and is the past president of the SoCal Sports Turf Managers Association. Mike and his wife Carole reside in San Diego where they are the proud parents of three children and four grandchildren.


Roxi Fulton – Volunteer Coordinator
Christian Hogan – Parent Outreach Coordinator
Clara Izadi Volunteer Coordinator    
Nina Izadi Marketing and Social Media
Helena Jayasuriya – Events Director
Kelli May Parent Outreach Coordinator  
Ben Mason – Communications and Operations
Heather Mason – Communications and Operations
Erika Muñoz – Communications and Operations
Abby Westerman Fun Zone Coordinator
Jenna Wood – Communications and Operations
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