About Us

Humor to Fight the Tumor was founded by Joelle Syverson, a brain tumor survivor diagnosed in 2001 with a non-curable, recurring tumor. Joelle enlisted the help of her sister, Kristin Gabriel, and three college friends to create an event that would be God-honoring, raise funds for brain tumor research, and build awareness of a greatly underfunded disease. That event became Humor to Fight the Tumor, an annual gala that now draws hundreds of supporters each year and features a dinner, silent and live auctions, live comedy, and stories of the courage and determination of those affected by this disease. By sharing these stories– sometimes heartbreaking, always uplifting – the event shines a light on the devastating effects of brain tumors, which attack the very centers of movement, thought and emotion. That light kindles hope, hope fuels generosity, and generosity paves the way for new and more effective treatments.

The inaugural event was held in 2004, and it has grown every year since. Through 2017, the event has raised $3.5 million to support research and patient services through the Chicago-based American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), the University of Minnesota, and Mayo Clinic. 

Humor to Fight the Tumor has no paid employees. The event is put together entirely by volunteers, and the event committee has doubled in size since its inception in 2004. Today, the Board and event committee is composed mainly of brain tumor survivors and caregivers for brain tumor patients. It is the commitment of these volunteers that drives the passion and purpose of the event.

Humor to Fight the Tumor is an independent 501(c)(3) organization and will grant funds to organizations meeting the requirements of our grant application process.