About Wisconsin Lyme Network

Mission Statement

Wisconsin Lyme Network is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise awareness, provide education and support, and promote research for vector-borne illnesses to the patients, medical community and the general population in Wisconsin.


Wisconsin Lyme Network Board Members

Jennifer Christie- President

In many ways I consider myself lucky with my Lyme disease. I do not know when I contracted Lyme but symptoms started after two sudden shocks to my system. Six months later I was in a wheelchair. It took over two years to figure out it was Lyme disease. I was lucky because I was never diagnosed with any of the multiple syndromes that many people get diagnosed with in error so I never stopped searching for what was happening to me. I was lucky because if I did not experience the cognitive and brain fog issues I would never have realized this was what had happened to my three kids years earlier. I was very lucky because I tested CDC positive on my first test. I was lucky because two of my three children tested positive on their first tests. I was lucky because I responded to treatment, it took almost a year and a half to see any hope that it would work but it has and continues too. I am very lucky because my children are in remission right now. I am very lucky because I got into remission for six months this year. I am lucky because when I restarted treatment this Fall I knew exactly what I was looking forward to in the future… remission again and hopefully this time forever!

I helped start the Wisconsin Lyme Network with the goal of finding doctors willing to learn how to treat Lyme. I am also focused on improving the doctor training system. My motto is: Affordable Care For All With a Kinder and Gentler Treatment Plan. Many Lyme groups work only on legislation. Wisconsin Lyme Network has taken a new approach to the problem. We focus on educating the public and medical providers about the issues and bring the new science to them. I am excited to start another year with this new group of people!!

Gail Wilke- Vice President
I am proud to have worked as a teacher in the field of special education for over twenty years.  I graduated with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. I am relatively new to the world of Lyme Disease with a diagnosis in 2015. Through entering this world I found connecting with others who are on this journey was key to keeping my sanity and moving my treatment forward.  It is truly a life-changing disease  and although the road is  extremely long and difficult, it has brought me the blessing of meeting  some of the strongest, bravest individuals I have ever encountered. As Lymies we have a common bond that no others can understand. I have found a new passion to help all out who are fighting this disease which is as strong  as my passion to help my students with special needs and their families. I am committed to helping to spread the word about the epidemic that is Lyme Disease.

Jackie Zimmerman- Treasurer
My story begins with my youngest daughter being diagnosed with Lyme in 2008. She was sick with multiple things since birth that in hindsight were symptoms of Lyme and co-infections. It was 2005 when I met two people with Lyme. They guided me in the more than two year process of getting my daughter diagnosed. Every appointment I sat through with her sounded identical to symptoms I was experiencing. Of course I didn’t have time to be sick, who does. I worked full time as an Area Team Leader for Goodwill NCW. I was a part time student trying to finish my Bachelor’s degree in business. I had a family and a household to take care of. In 2010 my daughter asked me to get tested. The result was positive. It was in that moment that my world of denial exploded. It was also when I realized I most likely passed it on to my daughter. Suddenly things I experienced as a child were fitting into the puzzle that is Lyme. I am very much looking forward to helping fulfill Wisconsin Lyme Network’s mission and helping others on this journey.

Kristin Collins- Medical Liaison
I graduated from Milwaukee County Medical Complex School of Nursing in 1993. As a Registered Nurse I’ve had a huge compassion for medicine and helping others. In 1999 I stopped working to start my family with full intentions of returning to work once my second son entered school.

However, unfortunately that’s when my health started to rapidly decline in 2006 and I noted that my family members were also having strange symptoms but our symptoms were all so different. This was the beginning of my families journey of chronic vector borne illness. During this horrifying and scary, life altering journey I began to question conventional medicine. I have been a board member of the WLN since it formed in fall of 2011 and will continue to advocate for Lyme and coinfections in the state of WI until there’s significant change in how this disease is understood and treated.

Lisa Hilton- Web Page Director
Pre-Lyme I was a medical assistant and worked in home health care for many years with people who were disabled. I used to paint and play piano until I became too ill to do so anymore. I have had Lyme Disease for over twenty years now. It took over fifteen years to get diagnosed with Lyme Disease and once I did I didn’t know where to turn.

The difficulty in finding help, knowledgeable doctors and the right treatment led me to get involved in advocacy and activism. Helping Lyme patients find support is now a goal of mine. I feel honored to be a part of Wisconsin Lyme Network who’s goals are support for Lyme patients and educating doctors on tick borne illnesses.

Rachele Kaske- Board Member
My name is Rachele and I suffered from Lyme Disease for 14 years. I was sick my entire childhood, and finally got a diagnosis at the age of 20. Although Lyme Disease may have slowed me down a bit, I never let it take my passion or drive away from me. While undergoing extensive IV therapy, I graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree in Human Development. Shortly after, my body started responding to therapy and I soon went into remission! I have been symptom free for over a year and a half, and for once in my life, I am healthy! My husband and I were recently blessed with our miracle healthy baby girl and she is doing great. She is a true blessing from God!

I want to be apart of the Wisconsin Lyme Network because I want to do everything I can to educate others and turn my story into something positive! I strive to help anyone suffering, especially from these diseases that health care providers overlook so many times! Knowledge is key, and I hope to spread knowledge to healthcare providers and patients alike of how common and detrimental tick borne illnesses really are!

Shelly Pelishek- Board Member
My name is Shelly Pelishek, and I am a hairstylist. I absolutely love my job because it doesn’t feel like work to me. I was diagnosed in 2013 with this disease along with many of the co-infections that follow. Since I was young I have been misdiagnosed with many different things, but no medicines would ever hit what I was treating for at that time, so I kept going further, and many years later I was staying in the same spot. It happened that I had been bitten for a second time which made me realize from extensive testing that I have had this most of my life which finally I had answers.

Thankfully I know because my children also started having issues. I am here to be a strong Lyme advocate for this disease and be able to help people understand that this is not just a disease to be brushed off to the way side. I want to make a difference and make sure people know the facts on how it can affect your life and also how it can affect children. I will not let it take me down without a fight because it already has taken many years away from me. I am educating people every day about Lyme and I will continue to do so as much as I can. I know that this was put in my path for a reason and I am prepared to walk the path and do what is asked of me. I am so glad to have met so many wonderful friends and we will get through this together.

Brenda Jones- Fundraiser Chair
I’m very excited to be working with the Wisconsin Lyme Network to empower patients and educate medical providers on how to treat this disease. I believe we can make a huge difference for people of Wisconsin and that there are many great things to come in the future of awareness and treatment of Lyme disease!
I was diagnosed with Lyme in August, 2014. I suspect that I contracted the disease sometime the previous year, but I’m not certain. My diagnosis came after multiple other illnesses were ruled out, and I asked my doctor to run the test. He was reluctant, saying “that is probably not it-I believe you are suffering from major depression and anxiety”. The test was positive, but he was correct; I was very depressed and anxious from the symptoms Lyme was causing and the devastating effects it was having on my life.
The last couple of years have been a whirlwind, but today I am doing well. I practice as an OB/GYN nurse practitioner and find caring for women rewarding. My treatment goals are to continue to get and stay well so that I can continue doing the activities that I enjoy including hiking, yoga, watersports, and scuba diving.

Danielle Hilt- Board Member

Sharon O’Neil- Board Member

Erica Zentner- Secretary

If you are interested in a position on the committee you can contact us at: Email: wisconsinlymenetwork@gmail.com