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Don & Gail Segal Awarded Top Honor for Their Life-long Commitment to the ABTA

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Don and Gail Segal

The ABTA wouldn’t be where it is today without people like Don and Gail Segal, whose commitment stems back to the early days of the organization. Their involvement began when their son was diagnosed with a pediatric brain tumor, motivated them to join the newly formed ABTA in 1975.

MindMatters congratulates Don and Gail for receiving the ABTA’s top honor, the 2023 Joel A. Gingras, Jr Award. Read more about the Segals and why they’re considered the backbone of what is now the ABTA… 

Since joining the first organization dedicated to brain tumor education, research and advocacy, Don and Gail have played a crucial role in the establishment and ongoing success of the ABTA. Their leadership gave rise to best-in-class patient and caregiver support programs, a renowned research program recognized by the medical community, and aggressive advocacy initiatives that led to national data collection.

ABTA's About Brain Tumors Primer
The latest edition of the ABTA's About Brain Tumors Primer, initially produced by Gail Segal in 1978

To ensure patients and caregivers had access to trusted brain tumor information, Gail wrote the first edition of the ABTA’s, “A Primer of Brain Tumors,” a publication still widely distributed by medical professionals to newly diagnosed patients.

Gail helped produce the inaugural ABTA Family Weekend in Chicago in 1993, commemorating the organization’s 20th anniversary, and continued to be involved in organizing subsequent biennial patient and family programs. To remove barriers so families could access valuable information and support, Gail developed remote educational meetings—which remain a vital resource. 

Notably, Gail advocated for nationwide collection of brain tumor data and participated in the work that led to the ABTA founding the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS) in 1992. CBTRUS is a leading resource for data on benign and malignant primary brain tumors.

In the early years of the organization, Don served as the ABTA’s volunteer executive director for 14 years, tirelessly developing and fostering revenue streams to allow the ABTA to deliver upon its mission.

He cultivated relationships with influential donors and foundations in the Chicago area, resulting in over $1.4 million to support ABTA initiatives. From creating an ABTA fundraiser during a Frank Sinatra concert to cultivating a relationship with the Joel A. Gingras, Jr Foundation, Don has contributed more than $2 million to the ABTA.  

Despite their extensive contributions, Gail and Don’s involvement with the ABTA extends beyond their past roles. They are active supporters and generous donors, belonging to the Kramer Society and serving as Honorary Board members. They volunteer their time during the ABTA’s National Conference and provide trusted counsel as informal advisors. Their ongoing dedication reflects their enduring commitment to the ABTA and the brain tumor community.

Don and Gail Segal speak at the 2023 ABTA National Conference
Don and Gail speak at the 2023 ABTA National Conference in Chicago

About the Joel A. Gingras, Jr Award

Since 2010, the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) has awarded the Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award, our highest honor, to recognize an individual, organization or group that has made significant contributions to the Association’s mission through philanthropy, advocacy, discovery, or patient care. 

Jessie Schlacks

Jessie Schlacks

Jessie is Managing Editor of the bi-monthly e-newsletter MindMatters. Submit story ideas or questions to jschlacks@abta.org.

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