Last year, the Life Raft Group had a very successful campaign in the month of December, #GIST31Wishes. This year, we want to make those wishes come true with a campaign that encourages action.

A holiday sensation, The Elf on the Shelf has captured the minds and hearts of millions. The LRG is introducing “The Bear on the Chair,” an LRG mascot who wears a life vest that is symbolic of our “GIST Hall of Fame” award. The GIST Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to honor those who have made remarkable contributions towards understanding GIST, GIST research or GIST patient advocacy. Our holiday campaign encourages everyone to contribute in a small way to those important areas.

We are excited to introduce “Paddles,” our ” LRG Bear on the Chair” on Giving Tuesday. Check back with us every day in December to see what action Paddles suggests that will bring us closer to a cure for GIST, and will help those living with it until we do.

Here are the first week’s suggestions:

December 1: Giving Tuesday – It’s Giving Tuesday! Help a GIST patient today!

December 2: Do Your Homework: Learn about GIST.

December 3; Join the Life Raft Group!

December 4: Help and International GIST patient by offering to translate.

December 5: Bake some holiday cookies to sell. Donate the proceeds for GIST research.

December 6: Be kind to yourself this weekend.

December 7: Consult a GIST Specialist.

December 8: Learn about the history of the LRG.

December 9: Know your mutation. Have your doctor order mutational testing.

December 10:  There are support groups around the world for GIST. If there is not one near you, ask us how to start one.

December 11:  Support the LRG by attending our second annual Water of Life event in May. Early bird registration is now available.

December 12: Submit your GIST story to your local newspaper to raise awareness.

December 13: Learn about our Rare 13 campaign.

December 14: There are different types of GIST. Learn more about Pediatric or SDH-deficient GIST.

There are many ways to help GIST patients. Click here to learn more.

December 15- Your doctor can apply to have your case reviewed by our Virtual Tumor Board. Contact us to learn how.

December 16: Remember to thank your caregivers for their support.

December 17: Become a GIST advocate. Learn how:

December 18: Give the gift of your time and talents. Volunteer at the LRG.

December 19: Cancer is still a puzzle. Help us solve the mystery and find a cure by supporting our research team.

December 20: Paddles and his caretaker, Carrie, plan on going to Life Fest. Hope you can join us in California: July 17-19.

December 21: The LRG newsletter is a great source of information.

December 22: Consider becoming a state or country leader.

December 23: Learn more about GIST. Sign up for our Expert Patient Training course.

December 24: Offer to give a talk about GIST at a local school, library or medical center.

December 25: Surround yourself with family and friends this holiday season and always.

December 26: Plan a GDOL in your area. Contact Mildred Menos at

December 27: Never give up hope. New treatments are being discovered all the time.

December 28: Share your story with other GISTERs via Facebook, our email community or by using Skype.

December 29: Every GISTER needs a life preserver. Help us to be one through our individual contact and programs by donating to the LRG. It’s not too late for a donation in 2015.

December 30: Submit your tissue to our GIST Collaborative Tissue Bank and help research.

December 31: Paddles encourages us to “Just keep paddlin.” He reminds us that we can continue all the above actions in 2016. Here is a great story about the term, “Paddles” from our friend, Robert Little.

There is an important meaning to the nickname “Paddles”.

These Landing Signal Officers or Landing Safety Officers (LSOs) faced the incoming plane and held colored flags for improved visibility. Because LSOs used colored paddles, flags, or wands well into the jet age, the officers became unofficially known as “paddles” (US), or “batsmen” (UK). They are still referred thus to this day, and the LSO trade is referred to as “waving”.

Paddles had a great time encouraging us to support GIST patients and to help find a cure for GIST. To view a gallery of photos, click here.

Paddles - LRG Bear