Our Highest Honor

The Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award

ABTA President & CEO Ralph DeVitto, Board Chair Jim Reilly and Johnathan Gingras present Fern Bomchill with the Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award during the 2019 National Conference.

Since 2011, the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) has awarded the Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award to recognize an individual, organization or group that has made significant contributions to the Association’s mission through philanthropy, advocacy, discovery, or patient care.  

The ABTA’s highest honor, the Gingras Award pays tribute to Joel A. Gingras Jr., who died in 1988 due to complications from treatment of a choroid plexus papilloma, a rare, non-cancerous brain tumor.

The following year—channeling all of their grief and good intentions—the Gingras family created the Joel Anthony Gingras Memorial Foundation (JAG Fund) to raise money for and increase awareness of brain tumors. An already popular annual tube float organized by the family became the fundraising mechanism. Since then, the entire Gingras family and its board of directors have made an unprecedented impact within the brain tumor community, 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.

Serving as the pinnacle of our philanthropic honors, the Gingras Award is also a testament to the dedication of the Gingras Family and others like them, who continue to support the ABTA mission. Thanks to all past, present and future recipients, we may be closer to a cure for brain tumors.

2019 Joel A. Gingras, Jr. Award Recipient

Fern Bomchill & the Bradley Benton Davis Foundation

In 2019, the ABTA awarded the Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award to Fern Bomchill, a prominent lawyer and philanthropist with a strong desire to minimize, if not eliminate, the adverse effects of brain tumors.

Fern was a partner at Mayer Brown LLP in Chicago and recently retired after 46 years with the firm. She graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and went on to become a prominent litigator, mediator and counselor.

Fern established The Bradley Benton Davis Memorial Foundation after her son, Brad, passed away in 2000. Brad was diagnosed with a brain tumor during his freshman year at Emory University and passed away at age 20.

Fern and the foundation have given generously to fund brain tumor research over the years. Multiple ABTA research grants are named in honor of the foundation with a focus to fund research to determine how and why brain tumors form. This research can lead to better treatments and, perhaps one day, a cure.

To ensure that Brad’s legacy and the foundation’s mission will continue for generations to come, Fern requested that two of Brad’s lifelong friends eventually take on the foundation’s governing mantle. They have enthusiastically agreed.

Past Recipients

2018: Joelle Syverson and Humor to Fight the Tumor Foundation

2017: Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States Founder and President Carol Kruchko

2016: E. Antonio (Nino) Chiocca, MD, PhD

2015: Paul Fabbri Memorial Fund Committee, Family and Friends

2014: Lynne Adams and the Butler Family Foundation

2013: Louis and Phyllis Jacobs

2012: Dr. Steven Brem

2011: Gina and Randy Porter (Justin’s Walk)