Meet Jena Lilly: A Champion for Children with Brain Cancer

We are thrilled and honored to introduce Jena Lilly, a remarkable leader and advocate for pediatric oncology, as she dedicates her time, energy, and passion to support GFAC (Gift from a Child).

I’m running a half marathon to raise $5,000. This amount will help transform precious tumor tissue, from five families affected by brain cancer, into valuable research data, shared globally with researchers dedicated to finding a cure.

Professional Excellence: Jena serves as the Executive Director of Research Operations and Strategic Planning for the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b). In her pivotal role, Jena leads a dynamic team of over 30 dedicated professionals, coordinating international pediatric oncology research consortiums that encompass more than 35 pediatric hospitals worldwide. Her responsibilities span the breadth of overall operations, strategic direction, and the planning and execution of innovative solutions at the D3b Center. Through her visionary leadership, Jena has been instrumental in advancing groundbreaking research and improving outcomes for children battling brain cancer.

Passionate Advocate: Beyond her professional accomplishments, Jena is deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of children with brain cancer. In her spare time, she channels her dedication into running half-marathons, using these events as a platform to raise crucial funds and awareness for this cause. Her tireless efforts and unwavering commitment to supporting children with brain cancer exemplify her incredible spirit and compassion.

Supporting GFAC: We are incredibly grateful that Jena has chosen GFAC as the beneficiary of her fundraising endeavors. Her dedication and passion not only bring hope to countless families but also inspire our community to rally together in the fight against pediatric brain cancer.

Join us in supporting Jena Lilly as she runs to make a difference. Together, we can give families a chance and make a lasting difference.

Donate Now and Support Jena’s Run for a Cure!

Campaign Goal: $5,000

Amount Raised: $2855


When a child’s life ends too soon, donating tissue is a way for the child and family to take a final stand against cancer. Tissue donation is a contribution that improves outcomes for children with brain cancer that only families can make.

Gift from a Child is a national initiative supported by families who have lost children to brain cancer, private foundations, researchers and medical professionals.

Gift from a Child’s mission is to increase post-mortem pediatric brain tissue donations through advocacy as well as the education of families enduring the worst … the loss of a child. We have formed partnerships with the best researchers and medical providers who value information and data sharing. These strategic partnerships will accelerate breakthrough cancer research, improve treatments and ultimately CURE childhood brain cancer.

Tragically, one-in-five children who are diagnosed with brain cancer, die from their disease; and sadly, researchers and physicians do not know why the treatments do not work for these children. Until researchers are able to study the brain tissue of children who do not survive their cancer, it will remain a mystery why these children do not survive their disease.

When a child’s life ends too soon, donating tissue is a way for a family to take a final stand against cancer. Many families have reported their decision to donate their child’s autopsy tissue was one of the few positive steps they could take during those final tragic days. Tissue donation is a contribution to improving outcomes for children with brain cancer that only families can make.

Please use the form below to donate to this campaign.

Mark your donation “Jena’s Run”

The Swifty Foundation began with Michael Gustafson who was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 10. Shortly after his diagnosis, Michael began fundraising for cancer research and recruited his friends to help. Before his death, with the help of his parents, he started the Swifty Foundation.

The Swifty Foundation now focuses on finding a cure for pediatric brain cancer in three ways:

  1. Promoting post-mortem tissue donation to improve research
  2. Improving collaboration among organizations and researchers working to cure pediatric cancer
  3. Funding research of recurrent medulloblastoma

When Michael was nearing his 15th birthday, his mom recorded this video in a restaurant parking lot. By this point, Michael already knew he wasn’t going to beat brain cancer for himself. But he could beat it for someone else. In the video, Michael lays out what he called his “Master Plan” — to become a tissue donor in hopes of finding a cure.