In Lieu of Presents

Joey and Haley asks for no presents, instead donate to the ABTA

Tuxes, dresses, flowers, and a tall, pretty cake. It’s a wedding between Joey and Haley who started their relationship five years ago, almost to the day of their wedding. While considering the complex details of their special day, the one decision they both knew from the start was no presents.

“We’re thankful for our family and friends to join us on our special day, but we don’t need extra things that we can get ourselves,” said Haley. “So, in lieu of a registry, we asked our guests to donate to the American Brain Tumor Association in honor of Joey’s mom, Susan.”

Haley and Joey designated guests to donate to the ABTA through the Fundraise Your Way program – a customizable platform that allows individuals and groups to fundraise for brain tumor research and patient programs at the ABTA through unique and creative occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, graduations or holidays. 

Making Sure Mom is at the Wedding

Just months before starting their relationship five years ago, Joey’s mom passed away from a glioblastoma. Joey remembers his Mom, as a selfless teacher who loved to learn and help her students reach their potential. While growing up, Joey saw his mom tutor students at their kitchen table for hours after school.

“She made a difference in so many of her student’s lives and loved watching them excel,” recalls Joey. “From small acts of kindness like penning a letter to a friend, preparing a meal for a family in need, or delivering flowers to seniors, she was always doing things for others.”

Joey's Mom Susan

Susan’s giving nature made lasting impressions and, certainly on her son, who now serves as a captain in the U.S. military. Since joining the military, Joey has been deployed twice to support military operations in both Europe and the Middle East.

While talking with this loving couple, it’s clear that service and selflessness is at the heart of their relationship. They felt that their wedding was a chance to get hundreds of their family and friends together and celebrate the spirit of giving in honor of Joey’s mom.

“If I could give Haley one gift, it would be to meet my Mom, but I know that she is watching over us,” said Joey. “She probably had the best seat in the house at our wedding. Her presence was truly felt.”  

Finding Hope

When asked about the motivation for participating in the ABTA’s Fundraise Your Way program, they felt that the ABTA provided a wide range of resources and services that would reach so many patients and families.

“Having lost Susan just five years ago, we thought our efforts could bring solace to other families,” said Haley. “It’s the least that we could do to make an impact on this devastating disease.”

“Even in the darkest times, there’s hope,” Joey shared. “Our hope is that families and patients impacted by a brain tumor can find hope as well.”

Learn more about ABTA Fundraise Your Way or contact Kitty Snow, ABTA community manager, or 773-577-8766.

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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.