Get to know #BrewStacheStrong
A cause beer for Glioblastoma Multiforme Brain Cancer
by Jeannine Boisse
In 2017, Colin Gerner’s brother, GJ Gerner, received unthinkable news. GJ was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), an aggressive form of brain cancer. Remarkably, he met the devastating news with a positive outlook like no other, and began an unyielding fight against the disease.
GBM is a cancer of the brain with a mean survival rate of only 12-18 months for the estimated 13,000 newly diagnosed with the disease in the US each year.
With his brother by his side and unwavering support from the rest of their immediate family, GJ underwent surgeries, tumor removal, and invasive, life-altering treatment. All while donning a smile and a stylish new stache. What started as a good-natured goal to divert from GJ’s ongoing cancer treatment, the brothers grew out their mustaches as a symbol of their commitment to the fight and their familial bond.
Upon GJ’s diagnosis when Colin was scouring the internet to try and find data or any kind of support to deal with the grim realities about the disease, he couldn’t find much. Together, Colin and GJ recognized the huge need for continued research and finding modern approaches to combating deadly brain cancer.
The StacheStrong non-profit organization was born and the Stache became their signature symbol of the fight against Glioblastoma.
Sadly after a 25-month-long battle, GJ passed away at the age of 30. LiveStacheStrong is his legacy, growing each year to make positive impacts to support the continued education and treatment for Glioblastoma.
If you visit the StacheStrong Website or Instagram page, you’ll soon learn that it’s way more than beer.
“We are so much more than a beer campaign, we are a foundation that is focused on raising funds and awareness for brain cancer research,” Colin Gerner tells Beer Is For Everyone.
Colin and GJ went to college with each other and bonded over their interest in craft beer. Inspired by the charity beer Resilience Ale, “that started my realization of the craft beer industry as such a community and supportive network,” Gerner shares.
Later as GJ was deep into treatment for brain cancer, with support from Oskar Blues Brewing they kicked off BrewStacheStrong as an element of their new non-profit organization.
BrewStacheStrong is one of their major campaigns but not the only element of the foundation which is approaching their fourth year as an organization. They’re a recognized charity sponsor for the New York City Marathon which in turn raised $130,000 for StacheStrong last year. RunStacheStrong is their 5K, which during the pandemic accommodated virtual runners in all 50 states, raising $140,000. GrowStacheStrong is their awareness campaign where participants grow out their mustaches in support. They also host an annual fundraising event in New York City. Looking ahead, they also hope to introduce a golf tournament event in 2023.
2021 was a record-breaking year for StacheStrong. “We raised over 1.2 million dollars, and 99% of incoming charitable funds go directly toward research. Unfortunately, in this day in age everyone knows someone who has passed or is fighting cancer, not just brain cancer,” explains Gerner.
Colin carries on the work initiated by GJ, speaking to universities, neurosurgeons, and teams of oncologists about StacheStrong. They’ve penned a million dollars worth of grants, directly funding brain cancer research to heavy-hitters in the academic world like University of Pennsylvania, UCSF, Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan, University of Miami, Mount Sinai in New York City, Northwestern Medicine, Yale, and Nebraska Medical.
205 breweries participated in BrewStacheStrong in 2021, serving over 300,000 pints and spreading awareness for their mission.
“We’ve been in the same shoes as so many other families who are going through this. The only reason it’s possible is because our supporters, donors, and these wonderful breweries, amidst everything they’re doing running a business during a global pandemic are still able to join BrewStacheStrong and put a unique beer on their production schedule.”
The goals for 2022 are even higher and their mission remains stronger than ever.
May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month and their focus is to have StacheStrong on tap in local breweries across America by May 1st. Brewery outreach and participation is lining up to surpass 2021. They anticipate 300+ businesses will brew StacheStrong beers in this year’s campaign, with each brewery joining the extensive community. The organization allows breweries full creative permission to brew their beer style of choice and recommend a donation commitment of $1 per pint or can.
In May, social media followers can find a map of participating breweries in their area where they can find StacheStrong Beer and raise a pint in support. Whether it’s a dollar or a thousand dollars, it all goes to the same mission.
“There are people who don’t even drink beer who will go and raise a pint for their loved ones. We’re showing with this campaign that beer IS for everyone. So many people have gone through a loss or a current fight against brain cancer and being able to go out to breweries and honor a loved one or share a beer with someone currently fighting, it’s such a strong platform we’ve built.”
All the work Colin does, directly contributes to supporting those who are in their fight against Glioblastoma. “I know they don’t have an unlimited amount of tomorrows. People with Glioblastoma feel isolated and without a voice. My brother was just turning 29 when he was diagnosed and told he had about 10-15 months to live. That’s a very harrowing diagnosis, it’s incurable, the facts are difficult. What we try to do is provide inspiration, as we also fund for research, that mentality is very important,” explains Gerner.
Beyond beer, StacheStrong gives a voice to a family every day in May through their social media platform. Much like when Colin desperately searched the internet for support in the early days of GJ’s fight, new families who receive the diagnosis now have the StacheStrong network to connect to people across the globe who are going through the same thing they are, and will realize they’re not alone.
As we approach May 2022, be sure to follow StacheStrong on Instagram as they continue to spread the GJ mentality and offer support to those in the fight against brain cancer. To learn more about the StacheStrong organization, donate, create or drink BrewStacheStrong beers, head to their Website.