A River Runs Through It

Sandra and Johnathan Gingras are keeping the spirit of Johnathan’s brother, Joel, alive by raising funds to support brain tumor research.

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.

Don’t give up. Don’t quit. And keep supporting the ABTA, as it will eventually get us to the goal of eliminating brain tumors.

“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.

Join the Gingras family and our other donors by helping the American Brain Tumor Association continue funding research and providing support services and information.

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Mindee Plugues


Mindee J. Plugues, of Los Angeles, CA, is vice president, marketing for the Applebee’s brand and brings skills including brand strategy, executive leadership, and marketing to the board. Plugues has been an ABTA donor since April 2001, following her father’s passing from GBM. She is also a former member of the ABTA endurance program, Team Breakthrough.

Bob Kruchten


Bob Kruchten, of Mount Prospect, IL, is a sales manager at Extreme Reach, a leading advertising technology company. He has strong skills in communications and fundraising, and has been advocating for the ABTA for 19 years in tribute to his best friend, Paul Fabbri, who lost his 10-year battle with GBM in 1998. Kruchten accepted the ABTA’s Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award in 2015 on behalf of the Paul Fabbri Memorial Fund.