Making Waves for Brain Tumor Research

Kessler Cruise for a Cure event honors Gavin for his love of boating, spending time with loved ones and aiming for the “good life.” In its 15th year, Gavin’s his family and friends charter a boat and cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. At twilight, the event culminates in lighting up the Chicago night sky with an array of fireworks.

But there’s a greater purpose to living the good life for one evening. Gavin’s loved ones host a night on the water to raise funds for brain tumor research and patient and family programs at the American Brain Tumor Association.

“ABTA is an avenue to help educate us all about brain tumors, available treatments, and to connect us with people who are living with a brain tumor,” said Kim, Gavin’s sister.

Celebrating Life and Helping Others

Gavin was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM) more than 18 years ago. Kim remembers her brother as a kind, strong resilient man who moved past obstacles to achieve his life goals, including becoming a successful Chicago businessman and proposing to and marrying the love of his life. When he was diagnosed with a GBM, Gavin’s strength allowed him to overcome the daily challenges of living with a GBM and go on to forge long-lasting friendships for years to come.

“Gavin’s optimism was absolutely amazing, and it allowed him to do so many incredible things in the last four and a half years of his life after his diagnosis,” recalls Kim.

Gavin’s family affirms that the annual fundraiser is not only a celebration of his life, it’s a way to help others who are also struggling with a brain tumor.

“I encourage anyone struggling with this diagnosis to do what you can to maintain a positive attitude, while ensuring you or your loved one is getting the best medical care available.”

The cruise has raised over $100,000 in the last 14 years for brain tumor research and patient programs. This year’s event will be held on August 29.

Support Brain Tumor Research Your Way

Fundraising events like the Kessler Cruise for a Cure help sustain invaluable resources at the ABTA. This includes funding researchers who are expanding the understanding of brain tumors and its treatments.

By joining the ABTA’s Fundraise Your Way program, it allows individuals and groups to support brain tumor research through creative or unique ways. Read more about the ABTA Fundraise Your Way program in this edition of MindMatters

Learn more about the Fundraise Your Way or contact Kitty Snow, ABTA community manager to get started: 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.