A River Runs Through It
It’s summertime in Pennsylvania in 1983, and 20-somethings Joel and Johnathan Gingras are floating down the Delaware River with around 85 of their friends……a growing group of friends from high school and college. The annual tube float was the highlight of the year, a time for friends to reunite for a fun day on the river. More than 30 years later, the tube float is still an annual event, but for a much different reason than the Gingras family could ever imagine. In the spring of 1988, Joel’s typical happy demeanor started to change. There were complaints of headaches, difficulty with balance and challenges with vision. Knowing something was wrong, Joel visited the doctor and was diagnosed with a choroid plexus papilloma, a rare, noncancerous brain tumor. Just months after surgery to remove the tumor, Joel, who was just 27 years old, passed away that October. As the Gingras family grieved the loss of their son and brother from this devastating disease, they began to think how they could help others in a similar situation. The following year, the Joel. A Gingras Jr. Memorial (JAG) Foundation was established to help raise funds to support brain tumor research. And what better way to keep Joel’s memory alive than reinstating the annual tube float? Only now, the tube float would serve as the Foundation’s first fundraiser.
“Raising funds for brain tumor research and providing assistance to those in their darkest time is our number one priority,” Johnathan says. “But from a family perspective, it helps us remember Joel. It keeps his spirit alive.”
Since then, the entire Gingras family and board of directors have risen to the challenge to make an impact upon all of those who battle with this disease by raising much-needed funds to help the American Brain Tumor Association provide patient services and invest in research. Never losing sight of their mission, the JAG Foundation has donated $2 million to the ABTA over the past 30 years.