About the Foundation

Hilton Christmas 2018

The Facts

The Gray Matters Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to support and empower people impacted by brain tumors through outreach, awareness and assistance programs, and to develop and participate in public awareness and education programs about brain cancer.

The Gray Matters Foundation was formed in 2007 by brain tumor survivor Lanette Veres. Lanette and friends have created programs and activities that help Gray Matters succeed in our mission --

"We are about support, not statistics."


Survivor-focused activities

The goal of our survivor-focused activities are to support brain tumor patients, their friends and loved ones. Our main activity is sending special gifts and cards with words of encouragement to bring smiles and happiness to people who are impacted by brain tumors.


Public-focused activities

The goal of our public-focused activities is to raise awareness in the community about brain tumors and educate others about how to become involved in the fight for the survivors and against the disease. We participate in walks and fundraisers as well as speaking at conferences and other brain tumor awareness events.

Lanette's Story

“Let us tell you about Lanette, the Founder and President of the Gray Matters Foundation. We are her friends and supporters.”

Lanette Veres

Lanette Veres was born in and grew up in Arizona, where the GrayMatters Foundation is based. After graduating from Maryvale High School she began her career in the banking industry. She married and became a mother of two children - a son and daughter. It was in August of 1998, as a single mom, that her journey in life took her in a startling and unexpected direction.

After seeking answers to the cause of the headaches and fatigue she’d been experiencing for over six months, Lanette was diagnosed with an Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma. Her physician’s initial concerns were confirmed after an MRI and biopsy of the tumor which was removed in her first craniotomy.

The biopsy put a type and name to the mass that had been found in her right temporal lobe. In the time between then and 2007, Lanette would undergo 4 more surgeries.

The only prior knowledge Lanette had of brain tumors was when her dear grandmother, Iris Kirk, fell victim 6 years prior to a GBM (Glioblastoma Multiforme). Grandma Kirk was Lanette’s best friend and losing her to a brain tumor was a crushing blow to the heart, to say the least. Following her diagnosis, Lanette understood first hand what her grandmother had faced. She herself, now faced the possibility of dying, but prayed her own children would not be left without their mommy.

Prior to her diagnosis, Lanette had worked as a top-performing banking relationship manager. After her diagnosis, her focus shifted and her priorities changed. Now she would take the same skills that she’d put to meeting the needs of her bank clients and use them for a different purpose. A new path opened and Lanette’s mission became clear: to support other people facing this challenging and often difficult disease.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
- Psalms 119:105

In 2001, Lanette sent her first gift package to a brain tumor patient. For those who know her like we do, it will be no surprise that she did so after attending a brain tumor conference while on her honeymoon! She hasn’t stopped sending her cards, gifts and goodies to patients and their loved ones since – and the numbers keep growing!

To see the gifts, cards and packages Lanette sends out is to understand the meaning of the Gray Matters Foundation. They are bright, colorful, joyful and cheerful, with stickers bearing the Foundation’s trademark turtle with her tongue sticking out...because brain tumors stink!

“A friend loves at all times.”
- Proverbs 17:17

Sending a gift is not what defines Lanette, though; ask anyone who knows her. Lanette is more than a package with a pretty ribbon. She is a vibrantly upbeat and positive person who cares deeply about giving and helping others. Ask any of her friends, colleagues, board members or family. For that matter, ask anyone who knows her at all! Spend only a short time with her and it’s easy to see that her belief that a positive attitude can do good things is contagious and her caring for others is motivating. It makes all of us want to give and do more.

The Philosophy

“We are about support, not statistics.”

So what does that mean? It means that we care about each special person facing a brain tumor and we want to help them individually.

We want to provide a support system, a friend to lean on, and an encouraging smile to those who are suffering. We want to help.

There are over 700,000 people in the United States who have been diagnosed with a brain tumor and more people are added to that list each day. Those people might be well known public figures such as Ted Kennedy and John McCain or members of our family, close friends and neighbors. Brain tumors don't discriminate.

heather and wayne

The Fun

At the Gray Matters Foundation we don’t like brain tumors and we wanted to find a unique and humorous way to show that to the world.

Remember when you were a small child and you didn’t like something? Maybe it was eating your peas or going to bed early. What did you do? You stuck out your tongue! Mom may not have liked it but it sure said everything about how you were feeling. 😛

By sticking out our "Tongues at Tumors" we can communicate disapproval with a simple gesture that transcends age and language barriers. That's why our turtle has her tongue sticking out too!

Show us your #TonguesatTumors photo by sharing it with us on social media!

Turtle Logo

How you can help.

The Gray Matters Foundation is able to provide support and help to those afflicted by brain tumors. Help us help others by making a donation today.