By Mary Garland & Mildred Menos
LRG Staffers

As July 13’s GIST Awareness Day draws closer we are encouraging all of our members to make the day their own by spreading the word in their local communities. Raising awareness about GIST eases obstacles to education, treatment and research that make this disease so difficult to battle. GIST Awareness Day puts the power to help bring about this change in the hands of you, our members, who have been most profoundly touched by GIST. Through the course of our daily lives, we are all a part of so many networks—schools, religious groups, fitness classes, friends and family to name just a few. As LRG member Eileen Glasser found out firsthand, the impact of a simple conversation with just one of these networks can have amazing ripple effects.


Through the course of her frequent volunteer visits to the office the past few months, Eileen learned all about the GIST Awareness Day effort we are all so hard at work on, and the World Record attempt for the largest display of origami boats we are spearheading to promote it. Like many, Eileen originally claimed she had no artistic skills and did not have high hopes for her boat making abilities.

However, she quickly mastered folding the simple shape and it wasn’t long before she set to work on bringing news of GIST Awareness Day and the origami boat project to her area schools. As a retired teacher herself, Eileen has great familiarity with the school system and thought that this would be something the area’s service-oriented Kiwanis, Key and Builder’s Clubs might like to participate in.

Her efforts to date have been an amazing success with over 7,500 boats and counting. Five area New Jersey schools have committed to participating in the origami boat project to date, with the Hebrew Academy of Morris County having contributed over 1,000 boats alone. Recently the entire school celebrated with a “dress down day” in which students donned the Life Raft Group colors of orange, blue and white to celebrate GIST Awareness. Eileen continues to stay engaged by making weekly trips to the committed schools and picking up the completed boats which she later delivers to our office by the garbage-bag full. We are so thankful for all her efforts!

For more ideas on how to get your community involved in GIST Awareness Day contact Mildred Menos at and check out our GAD website at