By Christian Gingras
The true story behind the Tube Float and JAG Fund dates back to the late 1970’s and early 80’s. My older brothers, Joel and Johnathan had a tradition of “bridge jumping” into the Delaware River. Although this summertime tradition was exciting, they soon wisely transitioned to a safer and more sensible activity, TUBING.
What began with a few high school friends, bad 80’s hair, Genesee Cream Ale, and hot dogs soon lead to a summertime tradition. In 1982, the original Tubers shipped off to college. The campuses of St. Bonaventure, The University of Scranton, and Trenton State College were soon ringing with rumors of a Delaware River “Tube Float”. The Float was quickly becoming a regional event. The summer of 1983 officially marked the first ever “Tube Float”.
In the spring of 1988, my oldest brother, Joel was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The Tube Float was quickly approaching and there were some decisions to be made. Instead of canceling the event, it was decided that the 1988 Float would be used as a fundraiser to help pay for Joel’s rehabilitation. Sadly, Joel lost his battle and passed away in the fall of 1988. Although it was a heart breaking time, Joel’s death spawned the creation of the Joel Anthony Gingras, Jr. Memorial Foundation (The JAG Fund) in 1989. The goal of this organization was to raise money and increase public awareness for brain tumor research.
The 90’s were an exciting decade for the JAG Fund. Huge Floats, large corporate sponsors, the initiation of the Golf Classic and tremendous organization brought the JAG Fund to new heights. The organization generated over $200,000 for brain tumor research during this decade.
Some of the more historic years include 1995 and 1998. In 1995, the “Pledge Program”, which requires each tuber to raise money, was begun. This put us on the map as a formidable fund raising organization. In 1998, we achieved two milestones. Not only did we greatly enhance the annual Golf Tournament, we also underwent a significant “changing of the guard”. The “Golf Classic” evolved much the same way as The Float, a few friends, bad 90’s hair, and some six-packs. Today, we pack the course with over 140 golfers and are forced to turn people away. The “guard changed” with the transition of the tuber generation and board members. The river was invaded with a fresh batch of collegiate and early “20-something” tubers similar to the Floats of 80’s. At the helm today, is a board of directors who were in elementary school when the original “Tubeheads” took to the waters of the Delaware over 20 years ago.
The JAG Fund has donated over $1.9 million since our inception. This milestone illustrates the tremendous passion and generosity of the organizations and individuals who support our cause. As we approach our next Tube Float I know that Joel is smiling down on us as we do our part to find a cure for brain tumors in his memory.